One of the oldest clichés in baseball is that you should never get too high or too low. Last weekend, with a four-game series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at Fenway Park, it was hard not to get caught up in the roller coaster that is a major league season.

There were times when the Sox looked like a team ready to run away from the pack in the second half. Friday night Boston put together an improbable ninth-inning rally against closer Aroldis Chapman, pulling out a 5-4 win to knock the Yankees into third place in the AL East.

Fenway Park was electric as the winning run crossed the plate to end the game, the loudest we’ve heard the ballpark this season. It felt like a moment we’d look back on as the team rolled toward baseball in October.

It felt that way in the eighth inning on Saturday afternoon, too. Chris Sale came out of the game to a standing ovation after striking out 13 Yankees in a scoreless outing. Craig Kimbrel then retired MVP candidate Aaron Judge in a scintillating 10-pitch showdown that had the ballpark rocking.

An inning later, Matt Holiday quieted the crowd with a tying home run. Kimbrel blew a save at Fenway for the first time, and suddenly, the park got quiet as Boston’s bats got even quieter.

The Red Sox were shut out for the final 13 innings of a 16-inning marathon, and again in a 3-0 loss to begin a day/night doubleheader Sunday.


It was one of the low points of the season. By the time Mookie Betts hit a two-run homer in Sunday’s nightcap, the Sox had gone 24 innings without scoring a run.

The Red Sox managed to win that second game 3-0, a split of the day and the four-game series.

They opened a series with the Blue Jays on Monday night with a three-game lead in the AL East, despite an offense that can go frustratingly quiet for long stretches.

There were moments in that final game against the Yankees that reminded you why the Red Sox are still the favorite to win the East. David Price pitched like a former Cy Young Award winner and Jackie Bradley, Jr. robbed Aaron Judge of a home run with a spectacular catch in the center-field triangle.

It seems clear that this is the blueprint the Red Sox will need to follow to win games. They’ll need to pitch well and play strong defense. They’ll need to steal bases and scratch out runs whenever they can. There is no big bopper like Judge in this lineup, so the team will need to wear down opponents with a relentless on-base approach.

Saturday’s 16-inning game was the longest at Fenway since Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. David Ortiz ended that game with a walk-off home run as part of Boston’s unprecedented comeback from a 3-0 series deficit.

It is increasingly clear that the lack of Ortiz’s bat in the lineup still haunts this team. Yet it’s just as clear there are other ways to win games, even on the heels of a staggering streak of scoreless baseball.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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