Boston Red Sox: Clutch win against the Nats is nice, but the job isn’t done

Ryan Brasier #70 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Ryan Brasier #70 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox have now won back-to-back games when they needed to the most.

After an excruciating series against the Baltimore Orioles in which they ended up losing two out of three, the Sox needed all the wins they could get against the Washington Nationals in their final series of the regular season. The first two games resulted in two huge wins, but the job isn’t done yet.

With tonight’s win, the Red Sox have moved themselves into a virtual tie with the New York Yankees a top the American League Wild Card race.

The Toronto Blue Jays still sit a game behind both the Sox and Yanks, while the Seattle Mariners will have to win tonight to stay in the hunt for a wild card spot.

Also of note is the Sox have a better season series record over all three of these teams, and depending on what happens tomorrow afternoon, that could become quite important.

Moving back into first place after watching it slip away against the Orioles is a huge morale boost for the team.

For all the craziness with the possible wild card matchups that we have seen recently, for Boston it has become quite simple; win and you’re in. There have been a lot of important games and series for the Sox all season long, but they’ve all led up to the most important one of them all, Game 162.

The Boston Red Sox control their own fate

You can’t make up better stories than these, and that’s the beauty of baseball. Boston’s playoff hopes will come down to the last game on their schedule. Fans probably were hoping for more after their scorching start to the season, but this team wasn’t really expected to be a playoff team heading into the season.

And now they are in the pole position to earn the top wild card spot in the American League. During a second half of the season when it felt like things could just never come together for this team, it all has over the first two games against the Nationals.

For starters, there has been some ridiculously timely hitting. The Sox haven’t done much offensively so far against Washington, but they’ve made it count in both of their wins.

In the series opener, Hunter Renfroe hit a clutch three run home run in the sixth inning, with Bobby Dalbec promptly hitting a solo shot right after. In today’s action, Rafael Devers kicked off the scoring with a solo home run in the fourth inning, giving the Boston Red Sox a 1-0 lead they held all the way until the eighth inning.

When the bullpen coughed it up, Christian Vazquez had a huge RBI triple with two outs in the ninth inning. Travis Shaw would drive in Vazquez on a single right after, before Kike Hernandez would hit the eventual game-deciding two run home run right after. They didn’t strike often, but when they did, it proved to be crucial to the outcome of the game.

The reason the offense had time to get on the scoreboard was because of the starting pitching. Eduardo Rodriguez and Tanner Houck both had huge outings when the team needed them the most. In fact, Houck was pulled after just five innings and 53 pitches, and he didn’t allow a single baserunner during his time on the hill. You have to wonder what he could have done over the ensuing four innings.

Rodriguez’s outing wasn’t as pretty, but he got the job done nonetheless. It seemed like the wheels were falling off in the fourth inning when he loaded the bases before recording an out, but he buckled down and got three consecutive outs without allowing a run. The impact of that stretch could have saved Boston’s season.

And while the bullpen wasn’t exactly perfect, they did their job and protected the leads they were dealt. Hansel Robles kept Sox fans on the edge of their seats in both games, but shutdown the Nationals in the ninth to pick up a pair of saves. Ryan Brasier was also a bright spot, and he evaded a bases loaded jam in today’s game that ended up being huge in deciding the outcome of the game.

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Without these two huge wins, Boston probably is on the outside looking in for their final game of the season. Now they are leading the pack, with just one game left nonetheless. But the task at hand isn’t finished.

There is still one game to go out and win, and it could be the difference between having home field advantage in the do-or-die wild card game, or having to play a 163rd game just to reach that game. The stakes have never been higher for this team this season. They have battled through attrition in the second half of the season, and the finish line is in sight.

With one more victory, the Boston Red Sox will be the victors of an extremely competitive AL Wild Card race, and have a chance to make some noise in the postseason.