Nothing comes easy for the 2016 Boston Red Sox, as David O’Brien et al remind us on a near-nightly basis. After a dismal road-trip, the Red Sox failed to improve on their record in a series against the Yankees, and now sit at only nine games above .500.
The playoff picture in the East is tight as it will ever be, with the Sox three games behind the Jays, and 2.5 behind the Orioles. At the moment, the Red Sox hold a .5 game lead over the Tigers for the second spot in the race for the second wild card berth. A poor series against a .500 team was the last thing David Ortiz and Co. needed, but regardless, it is what they got.
With a team as streaky as this, it’s feasible to consider the possibility that they might go on another tear, and finish the season with breathing room in any playoff race. However, sports in the Boston media remain ever-reactionary, and the flavor of the past ten games has been doom. It is always difficult to remain positive, after the stretch the Sox have most recently suffered through.
One of the bright spots on the team has been newcomer Andrew Benintendi. Unfortunately, the key word in the sentence prior is “newcomer”. All rookies are bound to make mistakes, or have a “welcome to the League” moment. Benintendi’s simply came during a crucial moment in the game.
For those watching, it was next to unbelievable. A seemingly playable, albeit sharply, hit ball by Jacoby Ellsbury quickly made it’s way into left field, prompting a quick response by Benintendi. The ball went mere centimeters over the 22 year old, and Ellsbury was safely aboard with a double, driving in two. Those two runs proved insurmountable in the eighth and the ninth for the Sox, who once again left the field with a heartbreaking loss.
Heartbreaking losses are acceptable in a season of 162 games, but at the rate they are coming lately to this team, one has to wonder if this is truly a team built for postseason success. All outside factors point to yes, with phenoms X, Betts, JBJ, and now Benintendi-but close games, especially during the postseason-are must-wins.