BOSTON (CBS) – Red Sox fans wake up Saturday morning with a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five ALDS and that’s really all that matters.
Let’s give you some random thoughts on what was an “edge-of-your-seat” 5-4 win Friday night at Fenway:
– Chris Sale was the biggest mystery coming into the playoffs. Five and one-third innings later, Sox fans are breathing a bit easier. Sale had a fastball that ranged from 92-95 mph, a devastating slider that killed the Yankee right-handed hitters, and a good change up. The hope is that he’s able to bounce back for his next start as he continues to build up from making only five starts in August and September.
– If Sale is sore waking up Saturday morning, Sandy Leon has to feel worse. Leon executed one of the toughest jobs of a catcher to the highest level by blocking ball after ball in the dirt. With so many MLB catchers average to below average at that craft, it’s refreshing to watch Leon. Fundamentally sound, blocking the ball with his chest protector (crucial with men on 3rd) is a lost art. He saved the bullpen’s bacon time and time again.
– “Whatever it Takes” was the phrase being tossed around the Sox clubhouse postgame Friday night. Rick Porcello stepped in to get two huge outs in the 8th before Kimbrel closed it out. Porcello said Alex Cora asked him pregame if he would be good to come out of the bullpen and his immediate answer was “No” (he was joking). For those of you saying, “well, he was going to throw a bullpen anyway since he’s starting Game 3 Monday night”…. well, Porcello said he had already done that before the game. He should be fine for Monday.
– Porcello is a “hockey player” and I say that as a huge compliment.
– The Red Sox had an MLB best home record of 57-24 and their offense led the way. At Fenway this season the Red Sox an MLB-best 5.78 runs per game and had the American League’s highest AVG (.282), OBP (.348), SLG (.482), OPS (.829).
And, compared to the road, the Sox scored 60 more runs, their average was almost 30 points higher, and they struck out 50 times fewer.
The Red Sox also had four of MLB’s 15 highest averages at home:
1. Mookie Betts: .364
5. J.D. Martinez: .334
14. Andrew Benintendi: .314
15. Xander Bogaerts: .314
– Martinez was the tone-setter with the three-run homer in the first inning. When scoring first, Boston was 74-15 during the regular season and when the Sox homered they were 85-24. Mission accomplished by Martinez on both fronts. If J.D. and Betts can carry their regular season into the postseason good things will come on offense.
– The Red Sox were a ridiculous 80-12 when scoring five or more runs in 2018. That’s how they will win in the postseason because it allows for bullpen error.
– The bullpen was a concern all season and only one game in Sox fans are scared to death. The positive is that three of the bridge relievers got their first outing behind them and they won. Ryan Brasier has to stay aggressive when he gets his next chance. Matt Barnes has been coming back from injury. He should get sharper as he goes along. Brandon Workman made enough pitches to use it to gain some confidence. However, when you have to use a starter in Game 1 of the postseason it’s not the best of signs.
– Craig Kimbrel said he “got angry” after Aaron Judge homered off him in the 9th. Kimbrel looked good in nailing down the 4 out save. Meanwhile, only 2-3 hitters could do what Judge did. An inside pitch basically fisted out of the park. Judge? J.D.? Stanton? Those are pretty much the only three that could that. Tip your cap and move on.
-Alex Cora and Chris Sale each notched their first-ever playoff wins Friday night.
-David Price goes in Game Two. He can quiet a lot of people if he pitches like he did in the second half….like an ace.
-Get some rest and buckle up!