HOUSTON (CBS) — Chaim Bloom’s first year in Boston wasn’t much fun. After being named Chief Baseball Operator of one of MLB’s most storied franchises, Bloom had to trade away Mookie Betts for financial reasons and then watched the team have an abysmal COVID-shortened season.

His second year in Boston has been a lot more fun. Bloom re-hired Alex Cora following the skipper’s one-year suspension and brought in a handful of players who played a big part in the Red Sox winning 92 games during the regular season and now have the team sitting four wins away from a trip to the World Series. Chief among them is Kiké Hernandez, who clinched Boston’s spot in the ALCS with a walk-off sac fly in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hernandez has been red hot at the most important time of the year, and along with fellow offseason addition Hunter Renfroe and trade deadline pickup Kyle Schwarber, the Boston offense is feeling it heading into their series with the Astros.

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This all has Bloom a very happy man. He’s in a great situation at the moment, enjoying Boston’s success in the present while also having an eye to the future. He can’t pinpoint just one aspect of the team’s success, because it has really been a lot from everyone up and down the roster.

“There are so many things you can point to and that is part of what is so much fun with this group. Everybody has contributed,” Bloom told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche following Thursday’s ALCS workout at Minute Maid Park in Houston. “You look at the margin by which we got in during the regular season and getting through the Rays in some really tight ballgames, every little bit mattered and it came from everyone. These guys keep rising to the occasion and finding ways.”

After struggling for much of the final two months of the regular season, Boston has really come together over the last two weeks. It started with a rally on the final day of the regular season to clinch the top Wild Card spot, and was followed by a dramatic win over the New York Yankees in the Wild Card game at Fenway Park. An epic ALDS win over the 100-win Rays followed, which included a blowout win in Game 2 in Florida and a pair of extra-inning walkoffs in Boston.

“The pieces have been there all along and we’ve seen them all along. That’s why we won 92 games. But to be on this stage and maybe playing the best we have played, that shows you something about where the focus is and how this group came together,” said Bloom.

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Bringing Cora back to man the bench has obviously been a big factor — if not the biggest factor to Boston’s 2021 turnaround.

“I don’t think this group comes together without him. He’s been huge. Because he believes, it helps everybody else believe,” Bloom said of Cora. “That belief and focus has been there since Day 1.”

A tough matchup with the Astros now awaits the Red Sox, with Game 1 on Friday night. This is the fifth straight year that the Astros have been in the ALCS, and the third time these two teams will battle in the playoffs during that span. Bloom is confident that his team has the right mindset as they get set to begin their battle for another AL pennant.

“It’s where it has been. I think they’re focused and they’re loose. We’ve known from Day 1 that we aren’t perfect, but we’re good and when we play well, we can beat anybody,” said Bloom.

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“This is what you play for,” he added. “To have a chance to go to the World Series. We’re four wins away.”

CBSBoston.com Staff