There was supposed to be a safety net. A "in case of emergency break glass" sort of reserve. If the Red Sox, for some reason, really needed them there were supposed to be waiting there.
Those four Houston games.
When Houston was cruising along the top of the American League, you looked at the season ending four game series against Houston as an opportunity. Surely the Astros would be resting players. The Red Sox would be facing their AAA team for at least most of those games. If the Sox needed some easy wins, they would be there waiting for them. After the Yankees handed those games to the Rays in 2012, it would be some nice irony if that same tactic came back to bite them.
Then the Indians had to go and ruin it. Their 19 game winning streak not only put them in the race for the number one seed...it put them ahead. Suddenly those fours games aren't quite the cakewalk.
Of course, it might not matter. The Sox probably won't need those games anyway. Or, maybe the Red Sox, Indians, and Astros could all decide that having home field isn't as important as, say, not pitching Chris Sale in game 162.
But, it would have been nice to use those games to put some distance between them an New York. Or, even pick up a couple games on the Indians if that was important. But that's all ruined. Cleveland went and made a game of it.
Guess the Sox will just have to take care of it all themselves now.
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