Game 162: New York Yankees at Red Sox (September 30, 2018)

Well, here we are: the 162nd and final game of the season. When I came up with this crazy idea to write a recap of every Red Sox game this season, I had no idea what would happen. I set out to do it as a labor of love and an exercise to try and improve my sports writing chops and get them on the same level as my music writing. I didn't know if I'd be able to do it without missing a game, so I gave myself an out that I would try to write up "as many as I can." What ended up happening was one of the most fun, rewarding, and memorable seasons of my entire life. I think it would be easier to list out some of the highlights with bullet points, so I'll do that below:

- First and foremost, it was an accomplishment. I probably watched close to 120 Red Sox games this season (I'm usually got for about a hundred a season, but I definitely topped that this year) and wrote a detailed recap of Every. Single. One. Just the sheer satisfaction of setting a goal back in March and following through and completing it was a huge personal reward. 

- It brought me closer with my wife and kids. We've always been huge Red Sox fans, but this year we watched a lot of games together and enjoyed every one of them. In particular, my oldest daughter who was already a fan became a diehard fan this summer. She watched just as many games as I did and has become an expert at reading box scores, following the standings, and finding all the highlights to let me know what happened across the league. She also has figured out that her favorite players are Xander Bogaerts (because she's a shortstop like him) and Mookie Betts. She even switched her uniform number from #5 to #50 for the upcoming season because of Mookie.

- I now write for a sports website! About halfway through the season, I caught the eye of the guys who run the Guy Boston Sports website. They asked me to join their staff as a Red Sox and MLB writer and to post my game recaps there, too. It's been a great experience and I love working with the other writers and people behind the scenes at GBS. Once baseball season (and its breakneck pace) is over, I plan on relaxing a little and writing some articles on the Celtics and Patriots while trying to decide if I want to do this all over again for the 2019 Red Sox season.

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There's a lot more for me to mentally digest, but for now that'll do. Now, on to the final game of the 2018 Red Sox season...

With the Red Sox all but conceding the previous week of games, I really, REALLY wanted to see them win this final game against the Yankees. There were two reasons for this: first, I wanted to see the team end the season with a win and at least a little bit of positive momentum before getting ready for the postseason. The second reason wasn't important except for bragging rights...after as great as they'd played all season, I wanted them to win the season series against the Yankees. What this game ended up being was a role reversal of the first two games. The Sox jumped all over Yankees starter Luis Cessa in the first inning, scoring four runs in quick succession. Brock Holt got it going with an RBI single to drive in Mookie and was himself driven in by a Mitch Moreland double. (It was good to see Moreland get the bat going as he's been slumping badly). Eduardo Nunez singled to drive in a run and then Ian Kinsler hit into a fielder's choice to bring the tally of the inning to four. They kept it going in the second when Holt doubled to push Jackie Bradley across. Xander Bogaerts then hit his 23rd homer of the season (with Holt on base) to make it 7-0. Who else but Luke Voit would answer for the Yankees, though? He's crushed Red Sox pitching in his short time with New York and he did it again in the fourth with a two run shot. JD Martinez answered with a three run blast of his own, his 43rd of the season, in the bottom of the inning to make it 10-2. That's how this game ended, punctuated by Craig Kimbrel striking out the final three batters of the game to put an exclamation point on the season. I'm not even going to get into individual performances because this was your classic empty-the-bench-and-bullpen game where literally everybody played. There was almost a party atmosphere and it was great to see Fenway Park packed with fans and rocking with noise in the final game of a long season. I know that advantage is going to be huge once the ALDS starts on Friday.

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With the win, the Red Sox took the season series against the Yankees, ten games to nine. Mookie Betts sewed up his first American League batting title by finishing with a .346 average. JD Martinez took the AL RBI title with a total of 130 RBI. The team finished with 108 wins, setting a new franchise record for wins that is unlikely to be broken any time soon. Mookie is a near lock to win his first MVP award and the team should be primed to have a much better showing in the postseason than they have the last two years. They'd better be...anything less than an appearance in the ALCS would be a colossal disaster. For now, though, it's time for them to get some rest and prepare for whoever wins the gimmick play-in game between the Yankees and Athletics on Wednesday before the real games begin on Friday. I plan on continuing to write recaps for as long as the Red Sox are still playing, so hopefully I'll keep writing to the end of the month. However long it ends up lasting, I hope you'll continue to join me on the journey. See you there!