Everyone Deserves Blame for Red Sox Loss

Joe Clark, Sports Writer

On Monday night in Boston, the Boston Red Sox fell to the Cleveland Indians 4-3 in Game 3 of the ALDS, ending Boston’s season. The Indians’ three game sweep was shocking to many, including myself, as the Indians battered pitching staff going up against the Red Sox league best offense seemed like the perfect matchup for the Red Sox. Instead, an Indians staff featuring Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer effectively shut down the Sox, ending their season. So the question is-How did the Red Sox lose to a team, that, on paper, looked much worse. There isn’t just one answer to this, so we’ll take a look at all the factors that caused the Red Sox to lose.

Manager/Front Office

This one is more on John Farrell than Dave Dombrowski, as the Red Sox had the pieces in place to win this series. You could argue Dombrowski would’ve been smart to go out and acquire another starter, but he did that in Drew Pomeranz, giving up top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. The problem was that, unknown to Boston, Pomeranz was damaged goods, and while the warning signs were there (injury history, career high 96.0 IP in a season prior to this one), the full extent of his injury problems weren’t known. It led to Padres GM AJ Preller getting suspended, and while the Red Sox had the option to revert the trade, it would’ve hurt their pitching staff down the stretch, so they didn’t. Regardless, the lineup that Dombrowski (and ex-GM Ben Cherington, who deserves more credit than he got) assembled should’ve been enough. One of the main reasons the Red Sox lost this series was that Farrell was simply out managed by Terry Francona (I will go to my grave upset over his “parting of ways” with the Red Sox). Francona going with Andrew Miller in the 5th in game one was bold, but it worked and it set the tone for the rest of the series. On the other end, Farrell was too conservative, making questionable lineup decisions, from swapping Mookie Betts and David Ortiz in the lineup and pinch hitting for Andrew Benintendi and Brock Holt in game three for a lefty-righty matchup, when Holt and Benintendi were the only ones who made consistent contact for Boston the whole series, to letting Sandy Leon, who looked awful in Game 3 get a third at bat, while taking out the aforementioned Benintendi and Holt (Leon went 0-3 with 3 strikeouts). Simply put, Farrell made poor decisions and was completely out managed, and it almost cost him his job. He’s never been a good in game manager, but his decisions this postseason just magnified that. While I do think he deserves another chance, which he’s going to get, he’ll be on a short leash for 2017. Don’t be shocked if it’s Torey Lovullo leading the Sox into the 2017 postseason.


Simply put, the Red Sox didn’t play well in the postseason. They didn’t hit nearly as well as they should have, letting the likes of Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin shut them down. David Price and Rick Porcello struggled, and the Sox let Lonnie Chisenhall and Coco Crisp hurt them this series, as both hit two key home runs that keyed the Indians to victory. Despite their porous pitching, the Red Sox struggled to do much of anything offensively, as they just couldn’t string hits together effectively. They played nervous and scared, and although a lot of their guys hadn’t played in a playoff game before, they shouldn’t have played afraid to be in a game of that magnitude. It isn’t necessarily their fault though, as I think the real flaw of this team was off the field. Outside of David Ortiz, I don’t think they had a true “clubhouse guy” on the team. Hear me out here. This doesn’t mean they didn’t have veteran leadership, which they had in spades with Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, David Price, and others. The problem was they didn’t have a guy who could get the team loose. 2004 had Kevin Millar, who famous Don’t let us win tonight speech before Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS rallied the Red Sox to a comeback win in a series where they were down 3-0. The 2013 team had Jonny Gomes, a guy who always fired up the team, and with the extra motivation of the Boston Marathon Bombings, that team was motivated to go out and win a title. When I look at this year’s team, I don’t see that guy. Obviously, Ortiz has the ability to be that guy, but he can’t be alone. I’m not saying they should’ve brought Jonny Gomes back, because he’s been bad the last few years, but finding that other “clubhouse guy” who can fill the same role is key. So yes, the Red Sox didn’t play well at all. But they also didn’t have the off the field presence to loosen them up, and they played scared and nervous. I think that’s the biggest factor in why they lost this game.


In a world where it seems a lot of people go to baseball games just to take selfies, Snapchat, and text their friends that they’re at the game, I thought Red Sox fans were different. Sure, every now and then someone would take the occasional selfie, but for the most part every game I went to this season fans were pretty invested in the game, no matter if the game was close. I was at the Sox 13-2 win against Minnesota on 7/21 and their 16-2 win against the D-Backs on 8/14, as well as their 4-2 loss to Cleveland on 5/20 and their 10-4 loss to the Royals on 8/28. All these games, for the most part fans were invested into the game, and would root and cheer for the Red Sox. I was at Game 3 of the ALDS. For playoffs games, you expect a more pumped up atmosphere, and my first playoff game (Game 2 of the ALCS in 2013 when David Ortiz hit this grand slam to tie the game up and lead to the Red Sox getting the win) had that atmosphere and buzz in the stadium, even though the Sox were down 5-1 at one point. Game 3 of the ALDS this year? The crowd was DEAD. If you were walking in with no knowledge of the magnitude of the game, the only thing that might’ve tipped it was the traditional playoff stand up and cheer routine if the opposition has 2 strikes and 2 outs on them. Other than that, there was nothing separating Monday night from your routine early May game. The only time the crowd had any energy whatsoever was when David Ortiz, after walking in what would turn out to be his final at bat, started moving his arms up while standing at 1B to pump up the crowd. What happened after that? The Red Sox offense finally started to string some hits together, and put a run on the board in the 8th, and had runners on 1st and 2nd in the 8th before Travis Shaw popped out to end the game. In sports, players always feed off the energy of the crowd, and in the late innings on Monday it was no different. Unfortunately, it seemed all any Red Sox fan wanted to do was yell at the Indians fans about how bad the Browns were. The Patriots game the day before could’ve been a factor (which, it shouldn’t have been), but there really isn’t any explanation for why the crowd was so weak. Maybe sunday’s rainout affected the fans who were able to attend, and their tickets were sold to people who didn’t really care? Regardless, it’s inexcusable that while watching the Indians celebrate on the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park, before the “Papi” chants or “One more year” chants there was a chorus of “0-5” chants, and people yelling “Boston’s a football town anyway.” Yea, Boston’s a football town, so that’s why before Robert Kraft bought the team there was a threat of relocation because of the lack of fan support. In the 1980’s, when the Patriots were routinely one of the worst teams in football, while the Red Sox were always at the top of the MLB, Boston was a football town? That’s news to me. I understand that since the Patriots have been at the top of the league for the last decade plus, but Boston isn’t really a baseball or a football town, it’s more of a sport town in general. When Tom Brady retires and the Patriots go through inevitable growing pains (which may be relatively quick thanks to the way their roster’s constructed and the way Belichick will presumably continue to construct their roster), will Boston be a “football town” that disregards the fact the Red Sox got swept to a team that, coming into the game looked worse on paper? Now that I got that off my chest, i’ll wrap up by saying that to see the “best fans in sports” resort to yelling about the Browns led me to believe the lack of real fan support was at least a partial factor in the loss.

The Red Sox loss in this series, as disappointing as it was, doesn’t spell the end of their window. They still have all of their core outside of Ortiz under team control, and while the loss of Ortiz is going to hurt on the field and off the field, they have a ton of options for next season on what to do at DH, both in-house (move Hanley to DH and platoon Travis Shaw and Sam Travis at 1B, while playing Yoan Moncada at 3B) or they could keep Hanley at 1B, as he really wasn’t bad there this season, and go out and sign a top FA hitter (Edwin Encarnacion, my top choice, Jose Bautista, or Mark Trumbo). Adding another starter would be nice, but an extremely weak FA pitching class (Rich Hill is the best FA starter who might be available) doesn’t help them much. They could trade for somebody, and if they could find a quality starter without giving up a ton of prospects for him (Or trade a good chunk of the farm for a legitimate ace, like Chris Sale) would obviously be ideal. Although this season ended in disappointment, expect many more Red Sox playoffs runs in the future.