BOSTON (CBS) — And just like that, David Ortiz’s legendary career came to an abrupt end.
The American League East division champion Boston Red Sox bowed out of the playoffs in shockingly quick fashion Monday night at Fenway Park, falling to the Cleveland Indians 4-3 to get swept out of the postseason. This was not the way Big Papi expected his career to end – in this series against the Indians, anyway, he expected the exact opposite.
“What [Cleveland] did to us, we were expecting to do to them, because we felt we had the better ballclub,” Ortiz told reporters after the game. “But when it comes down to the playoffs and short series it’s not about who’s the best, it’s about who played the best. And obviously, they did.”
Ortiz repeatedly referred to the role that momentum plays in the baseball postseason and how teams can build upon it and get stronger as series go on. If anyone understands how a team can run opponents over with momentum, it’s Ortiz, who was a part of several classic playoff comebacks and win streaks in his Hall-of-Fame-caliber career with Boston.
“The playoffs are all short series. It’s all about momentum,” said Ortiz. “The Indians, they had this incredible momentum going on since day one. … It’s not what you expect, but it’s what the game is, all about momentum, and we never caught up with that momentum, and in a short series that’s very critical.”
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Speaking of momentum, the Red Sox had none of it entering the ALDS. They clinched the AL East in a walk-off loss at Yankee Stadium and lost five of their last six regular season games. The Indians, meanwhile, closed out the regular season on a three-game win streak as they swept the Kansas City Royals at home.
The Red Sox had a chance to hit the proverbial “reset button” as the ALDS started, but the Indians quickly jumped on Game 1 starter Rick Porcello for four runs and never let up for the rest of the series. “Momentum” may not always be the catalyst for winners of playoff series, but in Red Sox-Indians it certainly was.