It wasn’t the easiest way to clinch a playoff spot. It certainly wasn’t the most exciting way to do it either. But, there are no style points when it comes to October baseball. (Unless you’re Derek Jeter, I guess) The Red Sox are in the playoffs, and Texas isn’t. That’s really all it comes down to.
Please spare me the whole “backing in” line. I’ve already had two Yankees fans use it on me today. You don’t “back in” to the playoffs. You get in because you win more games then the other guy. It doesn’t matter when the wins and losses come. As long as the wins add up to more at the end, it’s good. If the Sox had won Monday night, they would have clinched the playoffs when the Rangers lost on the left coast. Would that have been “backing in”? What if the Sox were on a ten game winning streak, but on an off day the Rangers lost. Is that backing in? You can’t make the playoffs, even if you’re from NY, unless the other teams lose at least one game. You can’t make the playoffs without help. It doesn’t work that way.
The Sox officially don’t need to try anymore. I know. If they’ve been trying up to now, they’re in trouble. But, it’s officially rest the starters week in Boston. I would expect plenty of Lowrie, Kotchman, Baldelli, and any of the September call-up spending time of the bench. The real players will suit up just long enough to stay fresh. After all, nobody wants a line drive off his knee at this point.
It’s also the time to start setting up that rotation, and the rest of the playoff roster. Make sure that the starters have exactly the amount of rest they’d like. Make sure that you know who the long man is going to be. Figure out whom you can trust with the game on the line, and whom you can’t. (I’m looking at you Mr. Delcarmen) Is a third catcher more important than a back-up infielder? Is there a Dave Roberts type ready for the bench? Is it Joey Gathright? Are there enough lefties in the pen? How about on the bench? This is the week to figure it all out.
The Angels will be a tough team. I don’t care in the least how many years the Sox have beat LA in the playoffs. These are different teams. Do I like the Sox chances? Of course I do. I think a healthy Lester and Beckett go a long way in a five game series. I like the line-up at the moment. They seem to be complimenting each other nicely. The Angels don’t have a pitcher that scares me to death like a Verlander. I think the Sox line-up should be able to get to just about anyone the Angels float on the mound. As long as the Sox rotation can keep things under wraps for a bit, it should go Boston’s way.
I guess we’ll all see next week.