USA Today Sports

What now for Dave Dombrowski's Red Sox?

Rob Bradford
September 21, 2018 - 2:48 am

NEW YORK -- Dave Dombrowski knows the routine. He has done it plenty of times.

He takes his shoes off, allows the players to douse him with champagne and offer as many congratulations in among the goggle-clad players as possible. Thursday night was no different at Yankee Stadium, except for one small detail.

There were more wins than he was used to.

"You don’t win 104 by accident. Baseball is a tough game. It’s tough to win," said the Red Sox president of baseball operations. "You have to have patience. You have your ups and your downs over the season. Winning 100 games is an accomplishment. In my career, it’s the first time I’ve ever been with a club that has won 100 games during the regular season. It just shows you the resiliency. There are so many good parts of the team. So many good players. We can win in a lot of different ways. We battled back today. It shows you the type of club we have."

Don't think that being able to pop the corks while owning 104 wins doesn't mean something to Dombrowski. It does. Why? Because of what it might mean.

Of his three cracks at the postseason does this one have the best chance to get where they want to go?

Dombrowski: "That’s a tough one to answer. I would say right now, yes because we didn’t win the last two. Time will tell. We know we have some other steps to go. But we have a good club, it’s well-balanced, they’re ready, we can rise to the occasion it’s shown. I’m excited when we get to that point. We’ll enjoy the next couple of days and get ready for the postseason."

Is this team better than you thought it would be?

Dombrowski: "You never think you’re going to 104 games. If you could say before the season you’re going to win 100 games you’re thrilled with that. Your main goal is to win the division so being in a position in which you win the division. I would have to say we have more wins than you anticipate. And we’ve had our ups and downs too as far as injuries are concerned. Other guys have stepped up. We’ve had guys that have gone down and others have stepped up. Hopefully, if things go well we can be as healthy as we have been all season long going into the postseason. It’s something Alex and his staff have watched very closely."

How does this team stack up to your previous two clubs?

Dombrowski: "It just seems like the maturity. I think we’re in a position where they’ve been through it before. I think Alex with his leadership has got them in the right set of mind. We’ve risen to the occasion all year long. I think we’re even more well-balanced than we have been in the past. A little bit deeper from a positional player perceptive. We play good defense. Run the bases well. Maybe just a little tick better and sometimes a little tick better can make the difference."

But are they a tick better? Folks forget that when the Red Sox were celebrating those previous two division titles there was an equal amount of optimism. And despite the fact the Sox started on the road in each of their division series there certainly wasn't the feeling that they were heavy underdogs.

On paper, Dombrowski's probably right. This edition is a "tick" better than the previous two. Yet what might be the biggest separator for the 2018 club has nothing to do with personnel. First off, they are starting at home will likely carry home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Ask any of the players who had to weather the storm of Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland and Houston, respectively, and they will tell you what a difference it makes.

There is also the ability for the Red Sox to use the last nine regular-season games to uncover an optimum amount of health and confidence. This is also invaluable, as was evident when watching the Red Sox needing the final weekend of both 2016 and 2017 to finalize their postseason plans.

Factor all of it into what Dombrowski has landed with and this time the feeling in that clubhouse was this wouldn't be the last round of champagne.

"Well, I mean it's really a tribute to the guys," he said. "That they're in a position where they accomplish it. It really, it's hard to put your arms around it because when you're going through it you battle each and every day to try to win a game. And that's what your focus is. Then all of a sudden you look up and see we've got 104 wins and hopefully we're not through and we hopefully can do better in the postseason than we've done the last couple years. But it just shows you, I mean, it's a tip of the cap to everybody involved. Of course when you win it during the regular season now you want to do it in the postseason. But I think it's a tribute to everyone in the organization."