Red Sox

These Red Sox are guaranteed 10 games at Fenway. After that is up to them.

Rafael Devers laughs with Toronto's Santiago Espinal at the Home Run Derby.
Rafael Devers and the Red Sox hope to be less welcoming of Santiago Espinal this weekend at Fenway Park than they were at the All-Star Game. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images


David Ortiz will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. That, at minimum, the Red Sox-centric world can look forward to.

Ortiz will be celebrated in Cooperstown for being a capital-letter Star in a sport that needs more of them, but at the core, for bailing out the Red Sox time and time again. Twenty-three walkoff hits, including those three in the ’04 postseason that made him a legend before his 30th birthday.

Stretch that definition to go-ahead hits in the seventh inning or later of a game, and Baseball Reference spits out 76, including my favorite Ortiz deep cut: Oct. 5, 2003, against soon-to-be teammate Keith Foulke in Game 4 of the 2003 AL Division Series.

My tongue’s a bit in my cheek there . . . as far as actually forgotten Ortiz classics, my parents and brother were in the park on July 31, 2010, so that one always makes me smile. But back to 2003, if I may continue to ignore the present for a moment more.


A crowd reaction like you read about, for one. And Jon Miller’s call spills my favorite part about it: It was Ortiz’s first postseason hit with the Red Sox, ending an 0-for-16 start. (And it was a sun-aided double that Jermaine Dye couldn’t pull a Lou Piniella on.)

The greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history began 0-for-16! The previous night, in the 10th inning of a tie game, Oakland intentionally walked Manny Ramirez to get to Ortiz!

Knowing how his — and our — story continued, it’s interesting to consider how things might’ve been different if he went to 0-for-17. If, instead of the 2003 season ending with a epic seven-game loss to the Yankees, it was on a meek ouster to the A’s. Do the Sox approach the winter different?

Eh. Too much reminiscing is dangerous, not to mention never entirely satisfying. Better to look ahead, and a spot that might be just as perilous.

The 2022 Red Sox have a 10-game homestand before them that may, I think it’s fair to say, be a last stand. If not solely for this team, for this multi-year mental framing of a roster.

After these three with Toronto, four with Cleveland, and three with Milwaukee, the Aug. 2 trade deadline will be about 49 hours away and the baseball player marketplace will be heavy into bartering.


The Blue Jays plan to come out firing. Friday night, Kevin Gausman, who’s allowed one earned run and fanned 27 in three starts against the Sox so far this year. Saturday, Alek Manoah — two earned runs and 13 strikeouts in 14 innings. Sunday, Ross Stripling, who’s had a couple starts not quite at that level against Boston, but has a 3.03 ERA for the year.

The Red Sox have Nate Eovaldi, Kutter Crawford, and a question mark. Which, at the moment, is about their best as well.

We know Toronto. Cleveland is neck-and-neck with the Sox in the wild-card race, and the Brewers lead the National League Central. If there was a time for the 2022 roster to justify it’s worth supplementing, or at the very least it’s worth keeping together for a run at the playoffs . . . well, it was the last two weeks when they went 4-10 in the division.

This homestand, however, will have to do.

Taking a wider view, it’s hard to feel like this season has been anything other than representative of the team Chaim Bloom constructed, and not just because their Pythagorean record based on runs scored and allowed is exactly what their actual record is: 48-45.

This is a .500-ish team. Maybe a little better than the 84 wins they’re on pace for — ignoring most of the remaining schedule is division games they keep losing. They hit well enough, though they’re a little Bruins-style one-liney with Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez their only regulars notably better than league average.


The pitching has been below league average, though not by much. That doesn’t feel like entirely fair to the starters, who went on a huge heater during the 20-6 June until the injuries started piling, but building a rotation with Chris Sale, Michael Wacha, and Rich Hill in it . . . there are probably going to be injuries.

And yet, because of the nature of the selloff that might be coming, there’s a grasping-at-straws bizarreness about it all. Their 12-26 record within the East really does not feel representative of the team they could be, not when their record against better-than-.500 teams is a reasonable enough 30-36 — 16th-best in the majors.

Of course, 16th in the majors is middle-of-the-road. It’s .500. It’s not playoff worthy, even in the modern-baseball October free-for-all. (Just follow it to its logical conclusion and do a 30-day, one-game stepladder that lasts the whole month, Mr. Manfred. Nats vs. A’s, winner gets the Pirates, and on up to the Yankees.)

We’ve been going on for two months now about how the Red Sox need to stake their claim to this 2022 season being worth fighting to the end for. They answered the bell in June, atoning for that 10-19 start, but they need more, lest their salvation only come from Bloom not finding their parts are worth enough on the trade market.

Ten more games at Fenway before the deadline. Ten games that this group has to make a statement, no matter what.

I bet they’d even take a sun-aided double or two at this point.


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