Red Sox Win and We’re on to Houston

Three days ago the Red Sox looked like a team on the ropes. Today, they’re moving on to the American League Championship Series to take on the defending champion Houston Astros. What the hell happened?

The Red Sox dominated the Yankees in Yankee Stadium in Games 3 and 4. Game 3 starter Nathan Eovaldi was dazzling in his postseason debut and Game 4 starter Rick Porcello turned in the best postseason performance of his career. All the while Red Sox batters mashed Yankees starting pitchers and left Aaron Boone looking like Ron Burgundy in the opposing dugout, never able to get out the hook soon enough.

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All of that leaves me feeling good as the Red Sox move on to take on the Astros in the ALCS. A lot of credit goes to Alex Cora who had the balls to shake up the lineup for Game 3. His gamble paid off as the lineup exploded and Brock Holt hit for the first cycle in baseball playoff history. A lot of credit goes to Red Sox starters, too. If you take out David Price (a big if, I know), Red Sox starters pitched 17.1 innings and allowed just four earned runs off 14 hits and two walks. That’s good for an ERA of 2.11.

The bullpen was an adventure in Game 1, and Craig Kimbrel was a hire-wire act in Game 4, but between the other guys last night and their performances in Games 2 and 3 I’m confident Cora has enough pieces to work with. The big question is David Price.

As I mentioned earlier this week, former Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello hadn’t pitched in a postseason victory until Friday night. Prior to Game 1 of the ALDS, his teams were 0-11 in games he pitched in (though his record was just 0-3). Roger Clemens won three Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox (and an MVP award, too) but went just 1-2 with a 3.88 ERA for the Red Sox in nine postseason starts. Hall of Famer Randy Johnson went 2-6 in the playoffs with a 3.71 ERA before winning 2001 World Series MVP honors. My point is not every one is Curt Schilling in the playoffs. It takes some time for some guys to figure it out. That’s why I would give David Price the ball one more time in Game 2 of the ALCS.

If Price doesn’t bring it Sunday night, make it a bullpen game and move him to the bullpen for the rest of the playoffs. The Red Sox other starters looked strong in the ALDS, but can you expect Nathan Eovaldi to morph into the 1991 version of Jack Morris this month? Probably not. It may be possible to win a title without Price contributing but that shouldn’t be the first choice. That’s why Price should get one last chance. At least if things go haywire early, Alex Cora can find a hook quicker than some other managers…

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