The Boston Red Sox are playing their best baseball at the right time of year. The powerful offense, headlined by MVP candidate Mookie Betts and the ageless David Ortiz, continues to perform at a high level. But, now the team’s pitching staff and bullpen have come together, finally providing adequate support. The Red Sox swept four games from their hated rival, the Yankees, over the past weekend. They continued their success in a crucial midweek series against the second place Baltimore Orioles.
Entering the weekend series versus the Yankees, the Red Sox were clinging to a one game lead over the Orioles in the American League East. The Yankees were within striking distance, only four games out, hoping to close the gap. With their ace, Masahiro Tanaka, on the mound, the New York seemed primed to win the first game of the series. They led heading into the ninth inning by a score of 5-2. With dominant reliever Dellin Betances taking the mound the three run deficit facing the Red Sox was steep. However, thanks to back-to-back run scoring singles from Mookie Betts and David Ortiz, the Red Sox narrowed the score to 5-4. With the Yankees needing only one more out to secure the win, Red Sox first basemen Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate with two baserunners aboard. Ramirez promptly launched a monstrous three run walk off homerun to center field sending Boston to victory 7-5. The comeback marked perhaps the best win of the year for the team, and crushed the Yankees playoff hopes.
Another Hanley Ramirez home run led the Red Sox to a 7-4 win in the second game of the series with pitcher Clay Buchholz earning his seventh win of the season. Red Sox ace David Price took the hill looking to continue his run of success. However, the Yankees knocked Price out of the game leading 5-2. Once again, the Red Sox had a comeback in them. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts homered narrowing the score to 5-4. Mookie Betts then took the game into his own hands, singling in the tying run and scoring the game winning run on a passed ball as the Sox took the third game, 6-5.
The sweep was completed late Sunday night in yet another comeback win. After falling behind 4-0 in the early innings, the Red Sox rallied to win 5-4. The red hot Hanley Ramirez hit two homers accounting for nearly all of the offense on the night. Reliever Robby Scott earned his first career win. The Red Sox did not let up Monday night against the Orioles. Pitcher Rick Porcello threw a complete game allowing only two runs and was backed by offensive superstars Betts and Ortiz who each homered.
The Red Sox now sport a major league best record of 12-5 in the month of September. One key to their success has been the sudden turnaround of their bullpen. Long one of the worst units in baseball, Red Sox relievers ranked in the bottom half of the American League in runs allowed. However, during the month this earned run average has plummeted to an excellent 0.94 runs allowed per nine innings. Coupled with strong starting pitching, especially from 21 game winner Rick Porcello, the Red Sox have finally begun to find their groove. Beyond the improved pitching, Hanley Ramirez has been swinging a hot bat with nine home runs already in the month. David Ortiz has continued his tremendous farewell season adding 4 home runs and an impressive .354 batting average in the month.
Looking ahead, the Red Sox continue a 10 game road trip visiting the Tampa Bay Rays and then heading into New York to face the Yankees. With continued strong play, the team looks to avoid the Wild Card Game and claim its first division title since 2013.