Friday, September 19, 2008

Looks like we might have to settle for the wild card.

Losing 2 of 3 at the Trop was a big blow. Going into tonight's play, the Sox are 2 games in the AILC (all-important loss column) behind the Rays. Because Tampa Bay won the season series against Boston 10-8, the Sox would have to finish ahead of the Rays to win the division. It's similar to 2005, when the Sox and Yankees finished tied, but the Yankees won more head-to-head games and were crowned the AL East champs, while the Sox took the wild card.

The Rays have 11 games left and the Sox have 10. If Tampa goes 5-6 the rest of the way, the Red Sox would have to go 7-3 to finish a game ahead of the Rays. It's not impossible, but a lot of things have to go Boston's way to win the division.

It wasn't all bad news coming out of the Trop, though. There were two things that gave me some confidence going into the playoffs. First, Josh Beckett looked like, well, Josh Beckett in the second game. He gave up only one run in eight innings and gave off that October Beckett vibe we all remember from 2003 and 2007. A healthy, dominant Beckett is probably the single most important ingredient for a successful World Series run by the Red Sox, so his performance in Tampa was a good sign.

The second thing that made me feel good about the Sox chances was David Ortiz's performance in game 3. Papi hit two home runs in the losing effort and swung as aggressively as I have seen since he came back from the wrist injury. Having Ortiz's big bat in the number three hole in the Sox lineup is nearly as critical to their chances as Beckett's arm.

So, despite the losses, I feel pretty good about the Sox going into the playoffs. There are still some questions to be answered (Lowell's and Drew's health, Paul Byrd or Wake in the 4th spot in the rotation), but things are looking pretty promising.


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