Pop into Fenway Park and try not to get confused. No, you won’t find Mo Vaughn in the batters box or Nomar Garciaparra fielding grounders — these aren’t your father’s BoSox. But lately, they sure look like them. Relying on sacrifice bunts (remember those?) and ground ball outs has Boston headed to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2018.
“Old-school baseball right there. Fundamental baseball, and we won the ALDS playing good fundamental baseball,” Boston manager Alex Cora told the media.
THE BOSTON RED SOX ARE GOING BACK TO THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES BABY!!!! pic.twitter.com/ahHzVA0PCD
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) October 12, 2021
The fundamentally sound Sox used an age old approach to top 100-win Tampa. In the same ninth inning in which Boston utilized a sacrifice bunt, Red Sox Kiké Hernández decided to get in the sacrifice party, end the drama and give Boston fans (another) reason to partake in post-game spirits. Tied at 5, with two on and one out, Hernández belted a sacrifice fly towards center, scoring Danny Santana and sending the Rays home via a walk-off for the second consecutive night.
“I was just talking to myself like, ‘All right, this is our chance. If you get up to the plate, you’re going to have a chance to win the game,'” said Hernández via MassLive. “You can’t let this situation get too big. You’re about to win this game, so you need to work on slowing everything down and making sure that you see the pitch, and you’re not just swinging out of your shoes for no reason, trying to be a hero.”
Boston’s ninth-inning heroics included a sac-bunt, pinch-runner and sac-fly. Enough old school baseball to make Peter Gammons blush.
“We always said we had a good baseball team that had some holes, and we still have some holes, but at the end, for how bad it looked sometimes, we’re still here,” Cora added. “We’re still in the dance. We’re still in the tournament, and we’re moving on to the ALCS.”
The Red Sox await the winner of the Astros – White Sox series for a chance to advance to the World Series.