It is Game 4 of the Red Sox-Orioles last regular season series with the Red Sox looking for the sweep and the Orioles looking for a better grasp on the Wild Card. Tillman pitching for the Orioles at the top 1st, gets Pedroia and Holt out comfortably for the most part.
Then, Betts comes up and gets a 5-pitch single, Ortiz gets a 7-pitch walk, and Ramirez takes 7 pitches to get an early 1-0 lead to start the game with Tillman already up to 29 pitches before finishing the first inning.
That’s what makes the Red Sox so dominant this year: their ability to take pitches well and create hits off of long at bats forcing pitcher’s pitch count to inflate dramatically.
The hitting has been the backbone to their strong command over the American League in September. They’re 19-8 for the month and averaging over 5.5 runs per game which leads the MLB.
They won a ridiculous 12 straight and gifted themselves the AL East crown pretty neatly with still 8 games to play. They have been the best offensive team in the American League by far, even compared to the Toronto and Baltimore so called heavyweights.
The Blue Jays and the Orioles definitely have a fantastic lineup, but the Red Sox commandeering over the American League has made them look incredibly mediocre especially in the most recent series.
I understand the Cubs are really good. It makes sense that they are leading or in the top 3 in almost every pitching and batting category in the MLB. However, that Red Sox lineup is so lethal that if they continue their form they will run a clinic against the pitching staff with exception to Hendricks.
The Red Sox lineup is just deadly top to bottom. Even Andrew Benintendi gives the Red Sox a solid rotational hitter at the end of the lineup and stretch singles into doubles with his speed which sets up Pedroia, Bogearts, and Betts to hit him home.
Their hitters are just smarter than everyone else. Even if a pitcher gets the first two guys out reasonably quickly to start the first inning, Betts and Ortiz usually find a way to stretch that quick 3 outs into a 25-30 pitch inning giving up a run or two.
The only problem that makes them vulnerable in the playoffs vs. other teams is that the Cubs do the exact same thing. Chicago does not even have phenomenal hitters like the Red Sox and still are able to produce on a daily basis. Bryant and Rizzo are great, but Hayward batting fifth is not as dangerous as Hanley Ramirez.
The Cubs gets saved by their rotation especially in September where they have been about average in their ability to get on base versus their rotation which has the 3rd best ERA in the MLB.
However, the Red Sox have not been much worse. Price has finally seemed to find his groove and even with Wright struggling since the All-Star break, they still have the 3rd best ERA in the MLB in September and the 2nd best in the MLB since the All-Star break to the oh-so-surprising Cubs.
Porcello has practically carried the load with an 11-2 record and a 2.61 ERA since the All Star break. He’s turned himself into a serious candidate for the AL Cy Young and to one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The rotation is not as stable as the Cubs, but that does not mean the hitting for the Cubs is as stable the Red Sox’s lineup. It’s a give-and-take for both teams and which side is going to be more dominant.
How can you deny the excellence of Betts and Ortiz, but also consider the most underrated pitcher in baseball, Kyle Hendricks (with the lowest ERA in the MLB) and the continued solid command from Arrieta and Lester?
Even though, Arrieta has not been the dictator on the mound like he was in last year’s playoffs, he has still performed to his ace worthy reputation even if he is probably the 3rd or 4th best pitcher on the rotation right now.
But the real question is why will the Red Sox win?
Experience and hitting.
David Ortiz is going on his 19th and final season, and it might be his best. The Cubs can try and put a lefty on him, but he is still hitting .303 off of lefties with an OPS of .824 this season. Ramirez has cooled down since the streak, but that was a given. There was no way he was going to continue hitting 3 homers in 5 games even through a short span of time like 20-30 games. But he is still on a tear and Betts is as dangerous now as any hitter in the league including Kris Bryant.
Hopefully, no one has forgot about Dustin Pedroia who has just been dragging along hitting around .300 all year long. People just ignore his production because it is expected of him to be consistently great year-in and year-out.
There is no denying how great the Cubs pitching is and that the probability that they mash in this loaded lineup is definitely possible, the Red Sox can dish the same medicine back with Price and Porcello.
When Game 1 of the World Series comes around, expect to see the Red Sox and the Cubs. It would make sense for how their seasons have gone and makes the ending to the 2016 season that much more magical.