CLEVELAND -- Road games were not always kind to the Boston Red Sox in the early part of the 2016 season, but they found success away from Fenway Park over the second half of the schedule on the way to an American League East Division Championship.
The Red Sox (93-69) finished the year 46-35 on the road with just one less win than they had at Fenway Park, which helped them qualify for the postseason, where they will take on the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series, starting with tonight’s Game 1 matchup at Progressive Field.
“We didn't really have a choice,” said Rick Porcello, Boston’s Game 1 starter. “Basically, our entire second half of the season was on the road. So it was either play well on the road and win series doing that or we'd be going home. It felt like we were on the road for two months straight.”
To Porcello, it was a matter of the Red Sox focusing on what needed to be done to mimic their success at Fenway on the road.
And Porcello led the way by posting a 9-3 record with a 3.31 earned run average in 17 road starts for Boston.
“We had to find a way to be able to perform like we had been performing at home while we were on those road trips, and we did a good job of that,” Porcello said. “We'd have some letdowns in some series, but we were able to bounce back in the middle of a road trip and do those sort of things.
“So I think it was just a matter of understanding that we can't fall back on having the comfort of being at home and in Fenway and familiar surroundings; we've just got to play good ball wherever we are.”
While Red Sox manager John Farrell credited the pitching staff for their role in the turnaround, Porcello felt the defense was responsible for the change in play on the road. And Porcello is hoping that continues against the Indians in the postseason.
“They've been outstanding,” Porcello said. “There's no let-down on our defense. When you look at the three outfielders that we have and the ground that they can cover, the speed that they have, the arms that they have, I don't think you're going to find a better three.
“Defense, pitching, those things are what helps you win ballgames. Doing the little things right, and those guys have been doing that all year. And it's really taken a lot of pressure off the pitching staff, a lot of pressure off me. Even if it's a ball hit in the gap, they're throwing it to the right base, keeping double plays in order, different things like that that you don't find every day.”