Posted on September 21, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
For weeks, it’s been a foregone conclusion that the Boston Red Sox would win the AL East. But it’s always nice when it becomes official, which is exactly what the Red Sox did Thursday night in the Bronx. In a wild, back-and-forth game, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 11-6 to officially claim the AL East crown for the third straight season.
“Winning a division isn’t easy,” said Red Sox outfielder J.D. Martinez. “It’s tough to do. This all started in spring training with the mindset we had right off the bat. The goal here is to win. We’re obviously not done. But it’s the first step, and we’re proud of it.”
After the last out of the game was recorded, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” played on the loudspeakers, as is typical at Yankee Stadium. But as the Red Sox celebrated on the Yankee Stadium infield, the song was soon drowned out by a loyal band of Red Sox fans applauding and chanting “Let’s go Red Sox!”
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“The chants mean you’ve done something well,” said Mookie Betts. “I’ve had a great season and I’m just trying to soak it in right now.”
Early in the season, it appeared the AL East race would come down to a series between the Red Sox and Yankees in Boston next weekend. However, the Red Sox got off to a scorching-hot start in April and showed few signs of slowing up in the months to come. Whenever the Yankees hit a speed bump, the Red Sox were more than willing to take advantage and extend their lead. That lead currently sits at 10.5 games, which is more than enough for the Red Sox to cruise to a third straight division title.
“Like I’ve been saying all along, they don’t stop playing,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora amidst the clubhouse celebration. “They just show up and keep playing. We’ve been hearing that from the opposition a lot lately. I think that’s the greatest compliment I can get for our team. That makes me proud. Now we’ve got a shot. Our next goal is to win, well, the best record, I guess. And then we have a shot to win 11 games in October.”
Boston needs just three wins in their final nine games to reach 107, which would set a new franchise record. That total would also be more than enough to solidify home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs. From there, as Cora mentioned, the goal is to achieve the kind of postseason success that has eluded the Red Sox the past two seasons.
With the way they’ve dominated the regular season, the Red Sox will surely enter the playoffs as the favorites to win it all. It won’t be easy with at least three other American League teams winning at least 90 games. While Boston’s lineup has few holes, the Red Sox will have to get their rotation straightened out before the postseason, especially with Chris Sale only recently coming back from the DL. However, the Red Sox will no doubt be confident heading into the playoffs and eager to play the role of favorite.
“We’ve risen to the occasion all year long,” said Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. “I think we’re even more well-balanced than we have been in the past. A little bit deeper from a positional player perspective. We play good defense. Run the bases well. Maybe just a little tick better and sometimes a little tick better can make the difference.”