Posted on October 9, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After churning out an 11-game win streak in September to secure the AL East championship, the Boston Red Sox slept walk through the final week of the regular season and have now lost the first two games of the ALDS to the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox now have their backs against the wall with the series shifting to Boston. Hanley Ramirez has guaranteed that the Red Sox will rebound and force a Game 5 back in Cleveland, but can the Red Sox fulfill that promise and keep their season alive?
Boston entered the postseason as one of the best offensive teams in baseball, but they have not looked like in the first two games of the ALDS. Outside of three solo home runs in Game 1, the Red Sox have pushed just one run across the plate in 18 innings. This is particularly disheartening for the Red Sox with the Indians missing some of their key starting pitchers due to injury. But the Cleveland bullpen came up big in Game 1 and Corey Kluber pitched like an ace in Game 2. It’s hard to imagine the Indians keeping the Red Sox lineup under wraps the rest of the series, but after getting shut out in Game 2, Boston has a long way to go to get back to where they were a few weeks ago when they won 11 in a row.
Due to injuries, neither team is well set up in their rotation, which means Game 3 will be a matchup between Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin and Boston’s Clay Buchholz. Tomlin had a rough season and was actually removed from the rotation briefly, but he responded to that demotion and pitched well after injuries forced him back into the rotation. In his final four starts of the season, Tomlin allowed five earned runs in 25.2 innings, so he’s pitching well at the right time of year and has a chance to continue Cleveland’s strong postseason pitching.
Unlike Tomlin, Buchholz has postseason experience, which is one area where the Red Sox may have an advantage. However, Buchholz also had an up and down season, and was moved back and forth between the rotation and bullpen multiple times. Also like Tomlin, Buchholz had some of his best starts late in the year, giving the Red Sox some semblance of optimism that he can deliver a strong performance in Game 3.
The home run was a big factor in Game 1, and one would expect it to be a big factor in Game 3 with the series shifting to Fenway Park. Both teams have hitters that can play long ball, and Tomlin has been particularly susceptible to giving up home runs this year. Boston’s lineup is better set up to hit home runs, and they should be more comfortable hitting in their home ballpark. If the Red Sox can start hitting the long ball in Game 3, it could be what they need to turn the tide in the series.
After the season the Red Sox have had, it’s hard to imagine them getting swept, especially at home. A Tomlin vs. Buchholz matchup at Fenway Park screams out for a high-scoring game, and despite getting shut out in Game 2, that still tips the scales in favor of the Red Sox. Even if they need late-game heroics from David Ortiz, the Red Sox will find a way to take Game 3 and extend the series. Boston wins 8-6.