Oct. 23—This has been some kind of ride for the Boston Red Sox.
Coming off a last-place season, most people interested in the club would have simply been happy to see progress. The Red Sox did much better than that, exceeding all expectations and enjoying a Cinderella run deep into October.
But Friday night the clock struck midnight on Boston’s magical season.
In the end the Red Sox couldn’t overcome the Houston Astros, who thoroughly outplayed Boston in Games 4-6 and finished off the American League Championship Series with a 5-0 victory in Game 6.
They now advance to their third World Series in five years, and the Red Sox will head home and try to figure out what went wrong.
Throughout the season we saw two versions of the Red Sox. There was the unstoppable juggernaut that scored in bunches, pitched well and always found ways to win. And there was the plodding, stalled out club that made silly mistakes and could seemingly only score on home runs.
The Good Sox surged to the top of the standings, knocked the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays out of the playoffs and had the Astros on the ropes through Game 3.
The Bad Sox? That’s the club we saw grind through the second half, and unfortunately for Boston, that’s who they became again at the worst possible time.
Early in the series, and especially in Games 2-3, the Red Sox couldn’t be stopped. Even early in Game 4 things were looking great. Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run home run to put the Sox up in the first inning and a vulnerable Zack Greinke was teetering on the edge for the Astros.
Then the Red Sox bats went cold, and they never got going again.
From the second inning of Game 4 through the end of Game 6, the Red Sox scored exactly one run over 26 innings. Just one. It came on a harmless Rafael Devers solo home run late in Game 5, and by that point things were already well out of reach.
Beyond that? The Red Sox only mustered nine hits, and between Games 4-6 the club collectively went 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position while leaving 19 men on base.
You can’t win like that, especially when the Astros are going 12 for 32 with runners in scoring position over that same stretch and driving in a preposterous 16 runs with two outs.
In the end, this was an incredible season despite the unsatisfying finish, and one that should be celebrated. The Red Sox are way ahead of schedule, and going forward the bar has been raised.
This team has proven itself a championship contender. Now the challenge will be making sure that October magic doesn’t run out six wins from the finish line.