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Red Sox managed to clinch AL East in final games

By Kevin Costa

Section: Sports

October 7, 2016

October marks the beginning of a new baseball season, but only for those teams left standing after 162 games. The Red Sox are one of those teams, finishing the regular season with a 93-69 record. The last time Boston made the playoffs was in 2013, a year in which they won the World Series.

Their success is due in part to an 11-game winning streak from Sept. 15 to 25. During that stretch, the Red Sox pulled ahead of the Orioles and Blue Jays to clinch the American League East. Yet the team faltered at the season’s close, dropping the last five of six games. David Ortiz, in what has been an outstanding farewell season, slumped at bat during that span. He went 3-for-20 and posted three walks and six strikeouts, according to ESPN. The bullpen for Boston also struggled, giving up a Mark Teixeira walk-off grand slam and two game-winning runs against the Blue Jays, according to CBS. Still, the Red Sox finished the season with the best offense in the league. Boston averaged 5.42 runs per game, the highest scoring team since the 2009 Yankees averaged 5.65 runs per game, according to CBS. The Red Sox also put up league highs for team batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.348) and slugging percentage (.461) according to CBS.

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the Red Sox will face off against the equally talented Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the ALDS. Cleveland had similar success this season, finishing 94-67 and even posting a 14-game winning streak of their own. And unlike the Red Sox, the Indians finished the season with a convincing three-game sweep of Kansas City. All in all, the Indians’ bullpen has been more reliable. The team’s closer, Cody Allen, has been solid down the stretch, whereas Boston’s closer, Craig Kimbrel, has struggled. In his last three closes, Kimbrel has walked six of 13 batters and conceded four runs. Cleveland’s setup pitchers Andrew Miller and Bryan Shaw have been healthier than Boston’s setup, Koji Uehara, who has just returned from a two-month-long recovery from a right pectoral muscle strain according to ESPN.

Despite their success, Cleveland has had it’s own spell of troubles. The team suffered injuries to key players who will miss the postseason: outfielder Michael Brantley, who missed all but 11 games this year, and pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, according to the The News & Observer. In this year’s season series, the Red Sox had the edge over the Indians. Boston won four of six head-to-head games, half of which were played in each city. Yet in the upcoming series that counts, the Indians will have the home field advantage. In what looks to be a slugfest against an equally matched Indians team, the Red Sox will attempt to come out on top and make another run at a World Series championship.

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