Mookie Betts

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Red Sox pulverize Yankees because that's how they've responded to adversity all year

John Tomase
October 08, 2018 - 10:52 pm

In case you had any doubts, these officially aren't last season's Red Sox.

They didn't win 108 games by hyperventilating after every tough loss, though that was easy to forget after the Yankees teed off for a 6-2 victory at Fenway Park in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Saturday. David Price stunk, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez put the bomb in Bronx Bombers, and the Yankees returned to New York with a chance to close out the series.

Fat chance, as it turns out.

With Brock Holt hitting for the cycle, Nathan Eovaldi routinely hitting 100 mph, and the offense exploding for 10 runs by the end of the fourth inning, the Red Sox regained control of the series with a 16-1 victory that guarantees, at worst, a return to Boston if they fail to finish things off on Tuesday in Game 4.

"Special night and a good night all around for the Red Sox," Holt told reporters. "Hopefully, we can carry this over."

We shouldn't be surprised, because this is who the Red Sox were all year. Not only did they never lose more than three straight, they dropped consecutive games only 15 times. Time and again they answered the call, starting practically from day one.

After the bullpen blew the opener in Tampa, the Red Sox responded with the kind of run that would define their season, winning 16 of their next 17 to establish themselves as the best team in baseball. They similarly dominated after dropping two of three in New York at the start of July, winning their next 10 and 30 of their next 36 to take control of the division en route to a franchise record for wins.

We believed they were better than the last two clubs to bow meekly in the first round after consecutive division titles, but we needed to see them do it in the playoffs to believe, and now we have. Every regular recorded at least one hit as the Red Sox shook off the disappointment of Game 2 by putting the Yankees on blocks and stripping them for parts.

"I know a lot of people got caught up in Game 2, but it was a 3-1 game in the sixth inning," manager Alex Cora told reporters. "Just one good swing by Gary and it was 6-2. We show up every day. That's the thing about this team. It's boring, and people kind of like don't like it, but we show up, we prepare, we play, we turn the page, and we've been doing it the whole season. We'll do it tonight, and tomorrow we'll show up and be prepared and play again.

"It was tough today coming here 1-1. The only thing we know is that, if we don't win tomorrow, we have a Game 5."

The Red Sox scored their runs the old-fashioned way, working eight walks and pounding 18 hits, all but five of them singles and more than one of the infield variety. The Red Sox didn't homer until Holt concluded his second career cycle with a two-run shot off of catcher Austin Romine in the ninth, but they didn't have to, not with Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi stealing bases and Mookie Betts taking an aggressive first-to-third on a soft single to left field when the result remained in doubt.

The Red Sox demonstrated why they were the best team in baseball, with Holt, Christian Vazquez and Devers joining the lineup to record eight hits and drive in seven runs, and the unheralded Eovaldi maintaining his mastery of his former team over seven outstanding innings.

Unlike the last two years, when the Red Sox wilted in the face of postseason adversity, this time they responded. Mookie Betts, limited to one hit in the first two games, singled twice, walked, took that extra base, and scored two runs. J.D. Martinez drove in two. Holt recorded the first cycle in postseason history.

On the mound, Eovaldi delivered seven strong innings, sparing the bullpen another night of heavy usage after it combined to throw 11 innings in the first two games. He was never seriously threatened while allowing five hits and striking out five.

"I felt like our offense, we were able to score some runs early, which made it easier for me to pitch," Eovaldi said. "I feel like my fastball command and my cutter were really effective tonight, and I was just trying to use their aggressiveness against them and try and get some quick outs."

At this point we should we note that we know where the Red Sox are headed next if they survive, and the challenge that awaits won't be easy. The defending-champion Astros swept the Indians on Monday and are realistically the best all-around team in baseball, even without 108 wins.

They're fearless, they're experienced, and they're healthy. Should the Red Sox get that far, Houston will represent the toughest challenge of the season.

It's entirely possible the Red Sox lose that series. But as Monday night reminded us, they won't go down without a fight.