CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox lost the home-field advantage to the Indians in the final weekend of the season, but was it really that big of a loss?Heading into this American League Division Series -- which starts Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS -- Boston has developed great confidence
CLEVELAND -- The Red Sox lost the home-field advantage to the Indians in the final weekend of the season, but was it really that big of a loss?
Heading into this American League Division Series -- which starts Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS -- Boston has developed great confidence on the road.
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It wasn't always this way. After a loss in Anaheim on July 30, the Sox were 22-21 in their road grays.
The next day, they came up with a stirring comeback in the top of the ninth fueled by a three-run homer by Dustin Pedroia to beat the Angels.
From that point on, Boston went 24-14 away from Fenway and finished with the best road record in the AL at 46-35. By comparison, the Sox finished only one game better at Fenway (47-34).
Only the Cubs (46-34) had a better away record in the Majors than Boston, and it was by a half-game.
Figuring out how to win on the road was a matter of survival. Starting on Aug. 15, the schedule had the Red Sox playing 29 of their final 45 games on the road. At the time, they were two games out of first place.
"Well, we didn't really have a choice," said Game 1 starter Rick Porcello. "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."
Porcello, for that matter, is a good case-in-point in highlighting the Red Sox can be as effective on the road as at home.
While his 13-1 record at Fenway jumps off the page, consider that he was 9-3 on the road with a solid 3.31 ERA. Porcello was masterful on the road in his last eight starts, going 6-1 with a 2.66 ERA.
"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. "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."
The biggest catalyst for Boston's improved play on the road?
"Pitching, without question," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "When you look at what took place in the months of August and September, our rotation stepped forward in terms of being more consistent one through five. In the month of September our bullpen was at its best. But, bottom line is, we pitched better in the second half and that led to the record."
Sure, the Red Sox would rather be at Fenway on Thursday instead of Cleveland, and it would have been preferable to have a potential winner-take-all Game 5 in Boston. But it isn't weighing on them as they get ready to kick things off in this series.
"It doesn't matter where you play," said Pedroia. "You just have to focus and compete against the other team and try to find ways to score one more run. We don't think about it. If you ask the guys, most of them wouldn't know [our road record]. It's a game and you try to be better than the other team."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.