Posted on October 8, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Despite being considered favorites by most people in the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox have fallen behind 2-0 and are one loss away from elimination. However, the Red Sox, who will come home to Boston for Games 3 and 4, have no plans of rolling over and handing the ALDS to the Indians.
Immediately after Friday’s loss in Game 2, first baseman Hanley Ramirez offered the following guarantee: “You better book a ticket for Game 5. It will be back here.” That statement is nothing short of a promise that the Red Sox will take Games 3 and 4, regain momentum in the series, and force a decisive Game 5 back in Cleveland.
On the one hand, Ramirez has little to lose by making the guarantee, as Boston will undoubtedly come back home and fight to stay in the series. His words also have the potential to rally his team, and by winning Games 3 and 4, the Red Sox can put the pressure back on the Indians in a potential Game 5. Of course, on the other hand, his words have a chance to become bulletin board material for the Indians, who no doubt want to close out the series as soon as possible, proving Ramirez wrong.
In terms of explaining Boston’s poor performance in the series, Game 2 in particular when the Red Sox only managed three hits, second baseman Dustin Pedroia thinks the problem could be a lack of identity. “I think, coming into this series, we had a lot of guys the last couple of games feeling it out, everybody, me included,” Pedroia said Friday. Perhaps the Red Sox struggling the final week of the regular season after wrapping up the AL East has played a role in their slow start to the postseason.
“I think we lost who we are — we’re the Boston Red Sox,” Pedroia said. “We need to go out there and play the game. We should dictate the tempo of the game and how everything should be played. The last couple of days, they did that and we didn’t. We have to get to our workout [Saturday] and play pitch by pitch the next game and that’s all we can do right now.”
Pedroia and Boston’s other veterans say that without or without the guarantee from Ramirez, the Red Sox simply need to play better. “Just play,” Pedroia said. “You just compete against the other team, that’s it. All the other stuff, the information we get, everything, you have to throw out the window and play baseball. That’s it. We’ve done it for 162 games plus these two, so it’s a matter of competing and competing together.”
David Ortiz also chimed in after Friday’s loss. His post-game comments were brief but no less powerful. “We haven’t played well,” he said. “Gotta hit better and pitch better.” When asked if he was surprised at the Red Sox falling behind, Ortiz said: “It’s part of the game, man, but I know we’re better than that. We just got to come and play better.”
Game 3 in Boston on Sunday will see Clay Buchholz start for the Red Sox facing Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin. Neither is their team’s ideal choice to start a game at this stage in the season, leveling the playing field, which could give Boston the advantage by virtue of having a more dynamic offense. However, the Red Sox have a long way to go to live up to the guarantee from Ramirez of a Game 5 back in Cleveland.