2019 Boston Red Sox
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2019 Boston Red Sox / Franchise: Boston Red Sox / BR Team Page
Managed by Alex Cora
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2019 Boston Red Sox were coming off arguably the best season in franchise history, an impressive win in the 2018 World Series under rookie manager Alex Cora. They did not add any players coming into the season, although they let go a few, such as P Drew Pomeranz and closer Craig Kimbrel, whose demand for a multi-year contract and inconsistency late in the season made him less appealing to the front office. Kimbrel remained available as a free agent to any team when the season started, and the Red Sox did not have a true closer either. However, they did re-sign a couple of pitchers who had been key to the World Series conquest, Nathan Eovaldi for four years and $68 million, and Chris Sale to a five-year contract extension worth $145 million.
One of the keys to the Sox's great 2018 was getting off to a good start and forcing their eternal rivals, the New York Yankees to play catch-up all year. This year, in contract, the Yankees were racked by injuries and struggled out of the gate - but nowhere near as bad as the Sox! The year started with a long west coast swing and on Opening Day, March 28th against the Seattle Mariners, ace Chris Sale pitched only three innings and gave up 7 runs while Boston lost, 12-4. They won the next day thanks to a dramatic three-run homer by Mitch Moreland off Hunter Strickland in the 9th, but lost the final two games of the series with the starting pitching struggling. The bats then went cold as they were shut out in back-to-back games by the Oakland Athletics on April 1-2], negating a solid performance by Sale in a 1-0 loss in the second game. Rick Porcello' second straight terrible start on April 5th against the Arizona Diamondbacks resulted in a 15-8 loss, and the next day they lost their 8th game out of their first 10 as they gave up a game-winning hit in the 9th to go down, 5-4, to the D-Backs. They finished the road trip with a 1-0 win over Arizona on April 7th, thanks once again to a timely homer by Moreland, to head to Fenway Park with a record of 3-8.
The Red Sox's home opener, played on April 9th against the Toronto Blue Jays, was more of the same: Sale fell to 0-3 with another shaky performance as the Red Sox were defeated, 7-5, by a team that had been in a deep hitting slump until then. The only positive note was the return to action of team icon Dustin Pedroia, who started the game at second base after missing all but three games the previous season, and not playing since May. They needed more late-game heroics to register their next win, on April 11th, against Toronto: the Red Sox were trailing 6-5 in the 9th, but managed to rally for two runs against closer Ken Giles, with Rafael Devers providing the walk-off hit. After continuing to play listlessly for another week, and seeing Pedroia head back to the injured list after only a handful of games, accompanied by postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi, they finally showed some life over the Easter week-end, April 19-21, when they swept the Tampa Bay Rays in three games on the road; until then, the Rays had been the best team in the American League. They finished April at 13-17, but played better at the start of May, reaching the .500 mark at 19-19 on May 8th, in the midst of winning 9 of their first 11 games that month. But they failed to build on that momentum, falling back into some bad habits. A 4-1 loss to the Yankees on May 31st meant that they were back to just one game above .500, at 29-28, as the month ended. They now trailed the Bronx Bombers by 8 1/2 games, with the Rays just behind the Yankees. The bullpen was still a problem area as pressure to bring back the still-unsigned Kimbrel grew, while it seemed increasingly likely that Pedroia's career was over. The main positive news during the month was the contribution of rookie 2B Michael Chavis: after making his debut at the end of April, he had 10 homers and 27 RBIs after 36 games. He was named the Rookie of the Month for May, while Devers was the Player of the Month after hitting .351 with 8 homers.
The Red Sox were one of the teams selected to play in the historic two-game series at London Olympic Stadium on June 29-30 that were the first two major league games ever played in Europe. However, they lost both games to their traditional rivals the Yankees, by scores of 17-13 and 12-8, as the ballpark was apparently too small for MLB mashers. In the second of the games, they achieved a rare feat, as they hit three homers in the 1st inning, courtesy of Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez, something which no Boston team had accomplished since 1979. In spite of that unsuccessful European journey, they had another winning month in June, going 15-12, then won five of the first six games they played in July to finish the first half with a record of 49-41, which at least put them fully in the running for a wild card berth, even if it was unlikely they could make up the 9 games that separated them from the Yankees. On July 13th, they made a move to improve a starting rotation that was clearly a weakness by acquiring veteran P Andrew Cashner from the Baltimore Orioles in return for two 17-year-olds still playing in the Dominican Summer League. Cashner had been pitching surprisingly well for the lowly Orioles, with a 9-3 record over the first half, which was more wins than anyone on the Red Sox save for Eduardo Rodriguez, who was 10-4 at that point. In terms of the bullpen, they had not re-signed Kimbrel, in spite of pressures from the fan base, as he had inked a three-year deal with the Chicago Cubs once the question of compensation in the amateur draft was out of the way, but they were now thinking of anointing Eovaldi as their closer as soon as he returned form the injured list. In the first half, Ryan Brasier had led the team in saves with the very low total of 7, but he had also been sent down to the minors because of inconsistency.
On September 9th, following yet another loss to the Yankees that put them 17 1/2 games back of first place, the Red Sox fired team President and General Manager David Dombrowski. The major gripes against the man who had put together a World Series winning team less than a year prior was the huge contracts given to Eovaldi and Sale, who had both failed to deliver, and the decision to forego the acquisition of a closer.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez
- AL Gold Glove: Mookie Betts (RF)
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Mookie Betts (OF) and Xander Bogaerts (SS)
- Ian Browne: "Red Sox part ways with Dave Dombrowski", mlb.com, September 9, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Red Sox crave back-to-back World Series championships, but road will be rough", USA Today, January 8, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "From summonses to sky-high expectations, Red Sox welcome the problems brought on by a World Series title", USA Today, March 27, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Too early to panic? Red Sox just want to go home after long, ugly road trip", USA Today, April 7, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Dave Dombrowski on hot seat in Boston just one year after winning the World Series", USA Tpday, August 20, 2019. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Defending champion Red Sox fire Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations", USA Today, September 9, 2019. 
- Michael Owens (Associated Press): "1 year after record-setting season, Red Sox limp to October", USA Today, August 15, 2019.