By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox will play baseball deep into October, with their walk-off clincher over the Rays on Monday night securing a spot in the ALCS. It’s where we thought the team might be in April, May and June, then felt a little less confident about in July, and then gave them no shot at as they stumbled through August and September.READ MORE: Nathan Eovaldi Says He'll Have No Limitations On Short Rest, 'Extremely Confident' Red Sox Will Pull Off Game 6 Win
Yet here they are after a raucous Wild Card win over the Yankees and an exhilarating ALDS victory over the 100-win Rays. Boston’s performance in the postseason, outside of a 5-0 Game 1 loss in St. Petersburg, has been impressive to say the least. The Sox have treated fans to two blowouts and two walk-offs. It has been, to use the most professional word possible, awesome.
As for who they’ll play for the American League pennant, we won’t know until Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday night. The Houston Astros own a 2-1 lead over the Chicago White Sox in the other Divisional series, with Game 4 being pushed back until Tuesday in Chitown. A winner-takes-all Game 5 would be Wednesday night in Houston, if necessary.
Whoever the Red Sox play next, that team will have home-field advantage for the series. And when it comes to which squad the Red Sox would prefer to see, they didn’t have much success against either club during the regular season. Here’s a quick look at how they fared against each of their potential dance partners in the ALCS.
Sox vs. Sox
The Red version of the Sox went just 3-4 against the White version of the Sox. They split an early season four-game series at Fenway Park in April, with Boston winning the first game, 7-4, thanks to a four-run rally in the eighth to break up a 3-3 tie. A rainout had the teams playing a double header on Saturday, and the Red Sox lost both seven-inning tilts, 3-2 and 5-1. They closed the series with an 11-4 victory on a Marathon-less Patriots’ Day, jumping out to an 8-1 lead by the second inning. Kiké Hernandez, J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo all homered in the lopsided win.
Things did not go nearly as well in Chicago in September. Boston was in the middle of their COVID issues, with a dozen players on the shelf. A 13th was added to that mix when Chris Sale tested positive and was scratched from the series finale. The White Sox took two of three that series, though all three were one-run games. Chicago got to Tanner Houck for four runs (three earned) in his 3.2 innings in the opener, with those three earned coming off a three-run Jose Abreu homer in the third inning. Boston plated two runs in the seventh to make it 4-3, but that was as close as the Red Sox would get.
The Red Sox won a 10-inning boxing match the next day, 9-8, despite allowing five unearned runs in the fourth inning thanks to a throwing error on Rafael Devers. Connor Seabold started for the shorthanded Red Sox, one of seven pitchers used in the game. Travis Shaw drove in five runs for Boston in the win.
The White Sox won the series finale in dramatic fashion, walking off with a 2-1 win on a Leury Garcia homer off Garrett Whitlock in the bottom of the ninth.
Overall, the Red Sox outscored the White Sox 34-30 in their seven matchups. The two teams were pretty evenly matched during the regular season, despite Boston being extremely shorthanded for that September series in Chicago. It should make for a pretty competitive and entertaining ALCS, should things shake out that way.READ MORE: The Red Sox Have Won Every ALCS Game 6 They've Played In
This would be October drama to a tee. A rematch of the 2018 ALCS. Alex Cora against the team that completely threw him under the bus for their barrel banging ways. This one would have some serious juice!
The Astros, though, had their way with the Red Sox during the regular season. They took five of the seven matchups, outscoring Boston 42-25.
The Red Sox dropped three of four in Houston to close May/start June, and were outscored 16-3 over the first two games. Game 3 of the set was a close 2-1 loss for Boston, but the team’s only run scored on a bases loaded walk in the first inning. The offense was a non-factor until the finale, when the Sox won 5-1 on a three-run homer by Christian Arroyo in the second inning and a two-run double by Xander Bogaerts in the seventh. Martin Perez gave Boston 7.2 strong innings in his finest start of the season.
The two teams met a week later in Boston, with Houston taking two of three. Perez was rocked for six runs in two innings as the Astros won the opener 11-2, snapping a five-game winning streak for the Sox. The second game of the set was a lot closer until the Astros broke it open with a three-run seventh inning to snag a 5-1 victory. Luis Garcia threw seven innings of one-run ball for Houston, and Boston’s only run came on an RBI groundout by a guy who is no longer on the team — Marwin Gonzalez.
Boston did show some life the series finale, winning a wild one 12-8. The teams kept answering each other over the first six innings. After Houston took a 7-4 lead in the fifth, Arroyo tied it with a three-run jack in the bottom of the inning. Jose Altuve hit a solo homer in the sixth, and Boston answered with a five-run frame off a sac fly, a hit batsman with the bases loaded, a bases loaded walk, and a two-run double by Bobby Dalbec. It was quite the way to avoid a sweep.
The Houston offense really banged the drum against Boston pitching, slashing .300/.386/.498 with nine homers and 19 doubles over those seven games. They also drew 32 walks with three other batters reaching via HBP. That’s a lot of free baserunners for a talented offensive team. Houston’s pitching, meanwhile, held Boston’s bats to just a .210 average and just 20 extra base hits (15 doubles, five homers) during the regular season.
If you’re looking for an “easier” path to the World Series, the White Sox are the way to go — though really, nothing is easy at this point in the season. The two teams were pretty evenly matched, even with the Red Sox juggling a COVID-ravaged roster in their second series.
But if you want drama, then you want to see another round of Red Sox-Astros postseason baseball. Their 2018 meeting in the ALCS, which Boston won 4-1 after dropping Game 1, had some classic games that weren’t decided until the later innings.MORE NEWS: Red Sox Selling Potential World Series Tickets, And They Are Quite Pricey
Mix in some bad blood between Cora and the franchise he helped win a World Series in 2017 (albeit by some questionable methods), and it has all the makings for another fall classic.