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Boston Red Sox advance to ALCS behind Kiké Hernandez, Rule 5 draft pick-turned-bullpen ace Garrett Whitlock


BOSTON — Because the Crimson Sox clinched their spot within the American League Championship Collection, they rode the backs of two gamers who entered the season eager to show their value.

Kiké Hernandez entered 2021 eager to show that he might be an on a regular basis participant within the main leagues after his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers typecast him right into a utility man function. Reliever Garrett Whitlock hoped to ascertain himself as a significant leaguer after the Yankees left him off the 40-man roster and Boston chosen him within the Rule 5 draft. On Monday evening, each gamers proved essential to Boston’s walk-off 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays that cemented the Crimson Sox’s spot within the ALCS.

“I imply, right here we’re stunning all people however ourselves,” Hernandez stated. “We knew in spring coaching we had the staff to make it this far and right here we’re.”

Early on Monday evening, it appeared just like the Crimson Sox would possibly cruise to the ALCS after scoring 5 runs within the third inning.

Whereas the Rays slowly chipped away on the lead all through the evening, finally tying the sport within the eighth inning, Boston displayed the resilience that made it the staff that led the majors in comeback wins in the course of the common season, pulling off the walk-off win to succeed in the ALCS in a season when few anticipated the Crimson Sox to be taking part in this deep into the postseason.

Boston scored the profitable run on a walk-off sacrifice fly from Hernandez after Christian Vazquez singled on a floor ball earlier than being moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Christian Arroyo. An infield single by Travis Shaw arrange Hernandez, who performed an important function in sparking the offense in Video games 2 and three to assist propel the Crimson Sox to the ALCS.

“I used to be simply speaking to myself,” Hernandez stated. “You are about to win this recreation, so it is advisable work on slowing the whole lot down and slowing your respiratory down and slowing the sport down and beginning early and ensuring that you just see the pitch, and you are not simply swinging at your sneakers for no causes for making an attempt to be a hero.”

The loss went to reliever J.P. Feyereisen, the eighth pitcher of the evening for Tampa Bay, whereas Whitlock recorded the victory after pitching two innings, permitting no hits and no runs. Whitlock got here in after reliever Ryan Brasier blew the save for Boston, permitting two runs to Tampa Bay within the eighth inning on an RBI double for Kevin Kiermaier and an RBI single for Randy Arozarena.

To cease the bleeding, Boston turned to Whitlock. Hernandez stated individuals across the staff known as Whitlock their secret weapon for many of the season.

“It isn’t secret anymore,” Hernandez stated. “Garrett Whitlock is legit. That’s an electrical arm with three-plus pitches at his age together with his expertise coming into this yr. It isn’t day by day {that a} Rule 5 choose will get to shut out a wild-card recreation after which wins a recreation that wins not only a division sequence, however a playoff sequence.”

Whitlock arrived in Boston as an unheralded Rule 5 draft choose. Whereas most Rule 5 picks fail to make any influence on a staff, the Crimson Sox’s entrance workplace felt optimistic concerning the reliever, whom it scooped up from the Yankees group. After some Boston scouts watched movies on Instagram of Whitlock’s offseason bullpen classes, the staff determined to take an opportunity on the 25-year-old righty.

The gamble paid off, with Whitlock posting a 1.96 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP in 46 video games, shaping as much as be the perfect model of the prototypical reliever within the fashionable recreation: a flexible pitcher who can are available and be a bullpen Swiss Military knife by throwing a number of innings or closing video games and getting hitters out in quite a lot of methods. Whitlock stated a turning level got here in Chicago in September, when he gave up a walk-off residence run to Leury Garcia.

“I used to be sitting within the toilet and Kiké Hernandez got here up and like I used to be down on myself,” Whitlock stated. “Kiké got here up and he was identical to, ‘Hey man, you’ve got been large for us all yr. You are going to proceed to be large for us.’ As soon as he stated that, that gave me a whole lot of confidence to go.”

Cora stated that the success of Whitlock is emblematic of the method the Crimson Sox take with scouting.

“Instagram will get a shoutout,” Cora stated. “I am glad that a number of the scouts have Instagram and noticed him throwing a bullpen. Nevertheless it was wonderful. It was an important day. I am very happy with all people.”

In the end, Cora stated the staff gained as a result of the Crimson Sox executed on the basics, a power of each Hernandez and Whitlock.

“Kiké put the ball within the air, old-school baseball proper there,” Cora stated. “Basic baseball, and we gained the ALDS taking part in good elementary baseball.”



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