Fenway Park Seating

They remained streaky, all the way to the end

Eight years later and the 2013 Red Sox remain a thoroughly baffling World Series champion.

Looking only at its roster – without a speck of statistical embroidery – revealed a decent enough team. If everything fell right it, a preseason prediction of 90 wins and a shot at the wild-card playoff berth seemed reasonably optimistic.

After it won 97 games and the American League East crown, the playoff run that unfolded could be seen by few folks who did not call Fenway Park their workspace.

They plowed through the Rays, Tigers and Cardinals, leaving doubters in their wake, champions of the baseball world.

This came to mind one day after the 2021 Red Sox fell to the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. The streakiest team in the pantheon of streaky teams watched its final laundry-cart dash careen into a wall, short by six wins.

It reached the roller coaster’s peak on July 5. A 5-4 win over the Angels left the Red Sox at 54-32, in first place, 4.5 games ahead of the Rays.

From July 6 on, they went 38-38, a display of perfect mediocrity.

They had injuries, but no more so than any other ballclub. Over the course of 162 games every team in baseball endures injuries. Their pitching staff took its fair share of bumps and bruises, a product of the mindset that arm strength should be developed and measured in pitch counts.

Its greatest attribute during the good times was an extraordinary ability for one man to pick up another’s. That faded away as they fell from first place and began a struggle to nail down a playoff spot.

The streaks came and went with amazing regularity. On the final weekend of the regular season, a sweep of the woeful Washington Nationals put the Red Sox in the wild-card playoff game. They beat the Yankees, blew the Rays out of the water, and after taking a thumping in Game 1 of the ALCS, won one in Houston and another at Fenway.

Ticket agencies began counting the fortune they’d make off bloated prices for World Series tickets.

Then they stopped hitting. Other causes for their season-ending, three-game losing streak are legitimate.

Chris Sale, be it for now or forever, was not the Chris Sale he used to be.

Eduardo Rodriguez gave us all a chance to reflect on just how good he really is.

Nathan Eovaldi’s big-mo left him. Laz Diaz is one of the worst umpires in the big leagues and should not be allowed anywhere near a playoff crew, but what happened after his missed strike-three call did not dictate what happened from there.

Which brings us to the real reason they were sent home Friday night: They stopped scoring runs in bunches. In fact, they labored to score one run at a time.

Their production ended in a perfect countdown: Two in Game 4, one in Game 5, zero in Game 6.

Kike Hernandez is a nice, solid ballplayer. He is not ticketed for Cooperstown. He is not someone who can carry a team on his slugging. Rafael Devers, whose career path takes him above the clouds, couldn’t do it, either.

Xander Bogaerts hit .192 in the ALCS. J.D. Martinez, .235. Christian Arroyo, .211. Kyle Schwarber, .120. Hunter Renfroe, .062.

Need we go on?

History may regard the 2021 Red Sox as the launching pad for an extended run of remarkable success. What Chaim Bloom does this offseason will have lots to say on that sentiment.

What we know for sure is that their season’s end is easily explained.

No team could go from hot to cold quicker.

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