A shocking, come-from-behind win made the Boston Red Sox your 2016 American League East Champions on Wednesday.
Too bad the shocking win was by the Orioles, and not the Sox, who were themselves stunned by a walk-off grand slam off the bat of retiring Yankees’ slugger Mark Teixeira.
What a bizarre sight it was. With a 3-0 lead after a sterling, one-hit, 6.0 inning outing from Clay Buchholz and hitless innings by Brad Ziegler and Koji Uehara, the Sox handed the ball to closer Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the 9th and watched him systematically give up a single and three straight walks (with a wild pitch thrown in for good measure).
About this time came word from Toronto that Orioles pinch-hitter Hyun Soo Kim hit a two-run home run off Jays closer Roberto Osuna and that Baltimore had won the game. Toronto’s loss meant the Red Sox were the division champs.
Meanwhile, back in the Bronx, with one New York run already walked in, the bases still loaded, and still no one out, Kimbrel looked surprised that John Farrell called on Joe Kelly, who managed a strikeout and foul out before the Teixeira bomb.
While the Yankees celebrated a meaningless walk-off win, the stunned Sox returned dejectedly to the dug out before disappearing into the club house for a raucous celebration.
When you win in this tough division after two straight seasons in the cellar, there is going to a party, and a well-deserved one at that. Some NESN viewers found the Sox’ (literal) “locker room language” objectionable after the network bizarrely chose to live broadcast the champagne-drenched festivities. Bad language in the locker room? Who could possibly have expected that?
In the four games ahead, the Sox still have plenty of reasons to win as it will determine who they face in the American League Division Series that starts next Thursday.