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Author: @greg_habeeb

3 Up, 3 Down From ALCS Games 1-3

The Red Sox nudged ahead in the race for the AL pennant on Tuesday night, beating the Astros 8-2 to take a 2-1 series lead. There’s been plenty of good and bad from the Sox through three games so far. Let’s dive in. 3 Up Jackie Bradley Jr. – Let’s kick things off with the biggest story from Game 3. With 2 outs in the top of the eighth, and the Sox clinging to a 4-2 lead, Roberto Osuna tried to sneak a fastball by JBJ. Bradley launched that pitch into orbit: An absolute BOMB of a blast from Jackie Bradley Jr. with the bases drunk. #RedSox — Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) October 17, 2018 Bradley Jr. now has 7 RBIs in 3 games in the ALCS. For comparison, David Ortiz had 11 RBIs in 7 games in 2004. The Red Sox centerfielder only has two hits this series, but he’s made them count. Any offense from Bradley Jr. is a welcome bonus, of course. But, it’s great to see him have a postseason moment after a strong finish to the regular season (.282/.349/.501 after June 23rd). Steve Pearce – Prior to JBJ’s Grandest Slammy in the 8th, the biggest moment of Game 3 was Steve Pearce wrapping a shot around the left field foul pole to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead in the 6th. Welcome to The...

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Red Sox Hang On, Draw First Blood in ALDS

A few quick thoughts on the return of Red Sox-Yankees postseason baseball, right after I hand out some high fives to Will, Chuckie, Morgan, and Billy… What a way to kick things off, huh? The Sox jumped out early, and managed to hang on for a 5-4 win to take Game 1 at Fenway Park. Boston hit the ground running, thanks to a 3-run laser over the Monster from JD Martinez: #TheRivalry starts with a bang. — MLB (@MLB) October 5, 2018 From there, the Sox seemed like they were on cruise control, extending the lead to 5-0 after plating a couple more runs in the third. Everything was working in their favor early. Guys were getting on base. Alleged “Red Sox Killer” JA Happ was bounced after 2+ innings. Chris Sale was dealing. Then, Alex Cora decided to take his ace out in the top of the 6th, and it all (almost) went to hell. I completely understand the logic behind pulling Sale. He wasn’t right all September, and the plan all season long has been to conserve the lanky lefty as much as possible. Sale also had allowed two hits already that inning, and had thrown 93 pitches (his highest total since July 27th). On the flip side, Sale was nearly untouchable while he was in the game. His much scrutinized fastball velocity returned to the...

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Red Sox-Yankees ALDS Preview Extravaganza

It’s pretty hard to believe it’s been 14 years since we’ve had a playoff series featuring Major League Baseball’s premier rivalry. The Red Sox and Yankees will kick off their first postseason matchup since 2004 later tonight, and on paper it looks to be a doozy. Two 100-win juggernauts. Over $400 million in combined payroll. Stars all over the diamond. History everywhere. I can’t wait. I’ll be breaking down both sides of this series, and then picking a winner at the end. But before we get into all of that, let’s take a little trip down memory lane: [embedded content] [embedded content] [embedded content] [embedded content] [embedded content] [embedded content] Okay, glad we got that out of our systems. On to the good stuff. Starting Lineup The Red Sox led the majors in just about every major offensive category this season. They placed first in total runs, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and wOBA. Boston was led by MVP-caliber seasons from Mookie Betts (.346/.438/.640) and JD Martinez (.330/.402/.629), though the Sox received significant contributions from others as well. Andrew Benintendi improved dramatically on his rookie campaign. Jackie Bradley Jr. slashed .282/.349/.502 over his final 284 plate appearances after a dismal start. Xander Bogaerts finally shook off his second half demons to post a career year. And yet, there are some holes, and question marks (specifically at second base, third...

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Red Sox Shut Down Tyler Thornburg

Red Sox manager Alex Cora made an unsurprising announcement earlier this week when he revealed that reliever Tyler Thornburg would be shut down for the remainder of 2018. There were two glaring reasons for this call by Cora. First, Thornburg’s recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome is ongoing. That injury caused him to miss all of 2017 and much of 2018. While the 29 year-old righty made progress this season, his manager noted he was beginning to fatigue down the stretch. “There’s no need to push him hard,” Cora told reporters prior to Wednesday’s doubleheader vs. Baltimore. Which, of course, makes perfect sense given the severity of TOS. However, if Thornburg had performed at a high level in his return to the Boston bullpen mix, would Cora be singing the same tune? The second obvious reason for giving Thornburg the rest of the autumn off renders that question moot. Thornburg simply hasn’t been effective this season. He posted a 5.63 ERA over 24 innings in 25 appearances, with unflattering peripherals. His last outing was on Sept. 14th, in which he allowed three runs in 2/3rds of an inning (and two HR). Thornburg’s velocity never really bounced back to 2016 levels, either. Per Brooks Baseball, Thornburg’s average fastball velocity was two mph slower than his last year in Milwaukee. Mix all of that together, and the smart move was clearly to shut down...

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Red Sox Break Franchise Record For Wins In A Season

Move over Tris Speaker and Smokey Joe Wood, there’s a new Sox sheriff in town. Boston won its 106th game Monday night, defeating the hapless Orioles 6-2 at Fenway Park. With the win, the 2018 Sox have now won more regular season games than any other team in the franchise’s history. That’s a pretty incredible feat, considering the Red Sox have been around for 118 seasons. HISTORY. — Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) September 25, 2018 As if breaking a century-plus old record wasn’t enough, the Red Sox also clinched the best record in baseball. Home field advantage: actually good. As has been the case for nearly all of 2018, Boston’s victory was spearheaded by the AL MVP favorite. Betts was electrifying once again, going 2-5 with a 2-run homer and a stolen base. The dinger was an absolute rocket, and capped off a four-run 2nd inning for the Sox. Orioles starter Dylan Bundy hung a 1-0 breaking ball over the dead-center of the plate, and Betts went windshield-hunting on the Mass Pike: Watch out, someone’s heating up big time. 🔥 — Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) September 25, 2018 Getting taken deep is nothing new for Bundy; he’s allowed an MLB-worst 39 big flies this season. As for Betts, he’s certifiably on fire again. He has 10 hits in his last 20 ABs, with 3 HR and 8...

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David Price: Beyond Thunderdome

Tonight is David Price‘s most important start in a Red Sox uniform to date. Yes, I’m aware he’s started Game 2 of the 2016 ALDS, which should hold that distinction in a vacuum. Tonight feels even more weighty, however. It’s a feeling that has been locked in the moment Ian Kinsler grounded into a game-ending double play Tuesday night. The Red Sox have another chance to clinch their 4th AL East division title in six seasons (their third in a row), and they have the opportunity to do so for the second time in three years in the House That Jeter Built. Nothing would be sweeter than for Price, who is maligned nearly as much by Yankee fans as he is by his hometown supporters, to land the finishing blow. Bronx Blues Price has emerged as the most reliable Red Sox pitcher this year. He’s caught fire in the second half of 2018 after his first two seasons in Boston were both up-and-down (2016) and marred by injury (2017). However, any Price positivity will always be overshadowed by his performance when it counts in October and his reputation of being unable to come through in big games…especially against New York. He did little to dispel those notions earlier this season. The Yankees knocked him out of the game in the first inning of his third start of 2018, scoring...

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