BOSTON -- You will always remember the chants from Fenway Park during the Red Sox playoff run. Boston fans chanted "GERRIT!" as Gerrit Cole failed to progress past three innings in the AL Wild Card Game. The crowd rang out. Red Sox fans let Randy Arozarena, Rays outfielder, hear the crowd chanting "RANDY!" He tipped his cap in response. Luis Patio lost a game-winning homerun to Christian Vazquez, in Game 3. Fans greeted him in Game 4 with jeers. The Rays pitcher was then able to give kisses to the crowd. The Fenway crowd was reminiscent of Red Sox history when Patio entered the game, facing Vazquez.
"WHO IS YOUR DADDY?"
Perhaps it was the COVID quarantine that kept them inside for months. Perhaps it's the fact that the Red Sox are back in the playoffs after posting one the worst records in MLB during the 2020 season. Perhaps it was the playoff games against the Yankees or the Rays in division rivalry, which elicited rowdy bleacher cheers. But few people around Fenway Park can recall a more enthusiastic atmosphere than the one the Red Sox enjoyed in Boston during their playoff run.
Boston won the Marathon Monday crowd's support and advanced to the ALCS with a 6-5 victory over the Rays Monday night. In the third inning, the Red Sox led the game. They had a Rafael Devers three run homer, an Alex Verdugo RBI triple and a RBI single by designated hitter J.D. Martinez. Martinez.
Both the Yankees and Rays players acknowledged the impact of the crowd on their games. All those involved in the team's game, from the Fenway Park security officers to the players and coaches to the executives at the front office, shared the same sentiment: Boston crowds are near legendary this postseason.
Fenway Park is buzzing with magic right now.
Hunter Renfroe, Outfielder: "It was probably the most fans, noise, and interaction that I have ever seen, both from ours and Yankees fans."
Tim Hyers, hitting coach: "My personal experience has been that this has been as good or better than any other. My kids have been with me to many playoff games and they were astonished. They've never been to Fenway as much as they did in the last week.
Assistant GM Eddie Romero says "Louder than 2018 World Series."
Chaim Bloom, Chief Baseball Officer: "I have had people who have been with this organization for decades tell us that last Tuesday was their best Fenway night." Everyone brought it last night, tonight.
Fenway fans have many reasons to be excited. The analytics team for the Boston Red Sox had modest expectations going into the season. They expected a team that could win around 85 games and compete for a wild card slot. They were actually on pace for winning 98 by the end the first half. They were the only team to record more comeback wins in baseball, and this helped them re-calibrate their expectations for the rest of the season.
Red Sox fans still reacted angrily to the deadline for trades, when the team added Kyle Schwarber and Hansel Robles to their lineup. However, there were no further reinforcements to the bullpen or rotation. After the Sox had been swept by the Yankees and then lost two of three against the Baltimore Orioles, the pressure was back on. Boston needed to win the final game of the season in order to secure a place in the Wild Card Game. The Red Sox were trailing 5-1 against the Nationals. Rafael Devers' game-winning homer, his second of the day, helped propel the Red Sox to the playoffs.
Even better, they would be playing at home against the Yankees for their wild-card spot. The Red Sox arrived early, scoring two runs against Gerrit Colley in the first inning. They then controlled the game throughout and won 6-2. This was the first playoff crowd since the 2018 World Series. They haven't lost a playoff match at home since that win.
After a disappointing season, Red Sox fans were able to enter the ballpark. The Red Sox could feel the difference with a full Fenway Park. Alex Verdugo, an outfielder, described the experience of playing in 2020 in front no fans as "hearing crickets." It was "the strangest feeling." He said that the postseason at Fenway Park was a significant change in the field's dynamics.
Verdugo stated, "It's natural adrenaline." You don't have to bring much energy if you already have men rooting for your success. This gives you the extra adrenaline and butterflies that make you want to do it.
Fenway Park is home to some of the most raucous crowds in recent history as the Red Sox continue their October run. Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty images
Devers was the hero of each postseason win. Hernandez. Vazquez. Vazquez. As Boston was about to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4, Cora believed that this assessment was even more accurate. The team will now be moving on to the American League Championship Series.
Cora stated earlier in the season that versatility is a key aspect of our team. "I thought that team was quicker. Although we were able to run more bases, I believe it was faster offensively.
This offense is what has made the team successful in this postseason and the regular season. Boston was fifth in baseball's runs scored. Cora's faith in the team's ability collect runs fuels optimism in Boston's dugout that the Red Sox offense can win no matter what score -- much like the 2018 team which averaged more than five runs per match.
"We talk about this in the dugout as if we were saying, "hey, let's do whatever we do." Cora stated, "They put up good at-bats." They did it all season, and what they did yesterday is the best. They scored the most runs in the seventh inning. They have good pitching in the late innings, and their bats are much better late in games. If you have good offensive teams, it gives you a chance to go nine innings.
However, the crowd dynamic is different from 2018.
"Shoutouts to all the fans. "You guys have been up for two straight days, and I don’t know how you do it," stated JD Martinez, designated hitter. It's amazing. Everyone was hyped up and pumped in 2018, but not this year. This year feels a little different.
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Hernndez seemed to be the most successful player in Fenway. He followed up his outstanding Game 2 performance with three more hits in Game 3. This included a solo homer as well as a game-tying RBI. The eight hits in just two games tied the postseason record (Derek Jeter had eight hits over the same period in 2005 and 2006), while Hernndez's seven consecutive hits were one shy of the record.
It was exactly what Hernndez had hoped for from the moment he signed with Boston. He wanted to be an everyday player, after his stint with the Dodgers. The transition was not easy for most of the season. Hernndez stated that he was uncomfortable in the first part of the season, after Cora appointed him as the lineup's leadoff. After hitting.227/.287/.387 from June 25, Hernndez felt more settled and decided to reset his season. He then hit a leadoff homer against Gerrit Colle on June 26.
"I told myself the season began today. I felt better and they placed me back in the leadoff spot against Cole. I was feeling good at the plate, so I decided to take my chance on the first pitch of each game. I scored my first pitch and it was a homer," Hernndez stated. I took off from there."
Hyers says that the team's ability is enhanced by the combined playoff experience of its roster. Bogaerts and Devers played major roles in the 2018 championship team, while Renfroe, Schwarber, and Schwarber all have playoff experience.
Hyers stated that they don't panic, they are able to play the game to win, and they can also succeed offensively. It is different to do it, but they have the experience to draw on.
This team will remind its manager and many of its members that 2018 is just around the corner. They'll be comparing themselves with a different Red Sox team, the 2013 team. After finishing last in their division, the 2021 Red Sox became the fourth team to reach the LCS since 1969. Who was the previous to achieve this feat? The 2013 Red Sox - who won the World Series.
The Sox will need to use more of their offense, which won them the first two rounds, and a lot more luck. Bloom acknowledged that Boston needed a lot to get to the ALCS. These included the Giancarlo Ston lasers in their wild-card game, which would have been home runs in most other ballparks and the Kiermaier double off Renfroe’s hip.
He said, "I'm just thankful the baseball gods" and "had our backs."