2021 Boston Red Sox
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2021 Boston Red Sox / Franchise: Boston Red Sox / BR Team Page
Clinched Wild Card: October 3, 2021, At Washington Nationals
Managed by Alex Cora
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2021 Boston Red Sox began their season by losing their first three games, at home, to the Baltimore Orioles, the team that most observers considered to be their main rivals for last place in the AL East. Their offseason had not given anyone cause for optimism as they had finished dismantling the outfield that had brought them a World Series title as recently as 2018, before falling out of the playoff picture in 2019 and then having a wretched season in 2020. They had traded RF and team icon Mookie Betts before the 2020 season, and followed that by trading LF Andrew Benintendi before this season, and letting CF Jackie Bradley Jr. leave via free agency. In contrast, the only significant additions were two career utility players, Kiké Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez, so there was not much reason for fans to be optimistic and no one was really surprised by the opening series debacle.
And then something unforeseen happened: the Red Sox won their next nine games. When they swept a doubleheader on the road against the Minnesota Twins on April 14th, they had the best record in the league, with no other team better than two games above .500. Among the factors helping them to that unexpected early surge was the solid performance of their starting pitchers: Nate Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta had each won two games and were a combined 6-1. On the offensive side of the ledger, DH J.D. Martinez and SS Xander Bogaerts, two of the holdovers from the championship squad, were both red hot, hitting .378 and .372 respectively, with Martinez having already hit 12 extra-base hits. 3B Rafael Devers was also off to a hot start, with 5 homers and 13 RBIs. On May 7th, they became the first major league team to reach 20 wins when they defeated the Orioles, 6-2. One of the few players who had not yet contributed much on offence, 1B Bobby Dalbec, was the hero in that game, with a two-hit game that included a three-run homer broke an 0-for-27 rut. A day earlier, it was OF Franchy Cordero who had broken out of his own slump, an 0-for-25 affair, with a three-hit night.
The Red Sox finished the month of June in impressive fashion, first sweeping the New York Yankees in three games at home, and then sweeping the Kansas City Royals, also in three games. As a result, on the morning of July 1st, their record stood at 50-31, and they were the first team in the majors to reach the 50-win mark. However, that was a bit of a high-water mark. While they were still in first place at the All-Star break, they went just 13-12 in July and on July 31st were passed by the Tampa Bay Rays, who took over first place. They were not as active at the trading deadline as expected, only moving to acquire slugging OF Kyle Schwarber, who was injured at the time, although they were also expected to get a boost with the return of P Chris Sale from Tommy John surgery. They lost 11 of 14 games, including crucial series against the Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, around August 1st to fall 5 games back by August 10th. They now had the Yankees breathing down their neck, and were in danger of falling out of a postseason slot altogether. On August 17th, they were swept by the Yankees in a doubleheader and were now tied with their eternal rivals, although the two teams were clearly moving in opposite directions: as recently as July 10th, Boston had led New York by 10 1/2 games!
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Matt Barnes, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Nathan Eovaldi and J.D. Martinez
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Xander Bogaerts (SS) and Rafael Devers (3B)
- Associated Press: "Devers hits 2 HR; Red Sox to host Yanks in AL wild-card game", ESPN.com, October 3, 2021
- Ian Browne: "Sox first to 50 in AL; is 100 in the cards?", mlb.com, July 1, 2021. 
- Ian Browne: "Devers' heroics clinch top WC spot for Boston", mlb.com', October 3, 2021.