BOSTON -- The sun splashed over Fenway Park on an unseasonably warm Saturday, making it feel like winter is still off in the distance for the Red Sox.But the only thing the Sox can do to stave off the end of baseball season is to win today's Game 3 of
BOSTON -- The sun splashed over Fenway Park on an unseasonably warm Saturday, making it feel like winter is still off in the distance for the Red Sox.
But the only thing the Sox can do to stave off the end of baseball season is to win today's Game 3 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan. To do so, they would have to cool off the stacked Astros offense, which often made the first two games of this series look like batting practice.
If the Red Sox can change the momentum with a good start by Doug Fister and some production from the offense, you might hear some talk about the kind of comeback that happened in 1999 and 2003, when Boston faced the same 2-0 deficit in the Division Series.
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For now, though, this isn't about winning the series. For the Red Sox, this is all about winning today and avoiding the indignity of being swept out of the postseason in two straight years.
"Gotta win, we've gotta win," said shortstop Xander Bogaerts. "We've been in this situation last year and we didn't come through, but I feel like we have a good enough team to overcome that and to come through with the win. It starts by winning one game and we go from there."
No Red Sox player wants to contemplate the alternative.
"When we get home, we always start playing better," said Bogaerts. "Now we've got one more chance to start playing better before we head out, before they kick us out, so we've got to do it. We've got to come through."
Another sweep would make for a long winter for the young core, led by Mookie Betts, who turned 25 on Saturday, and also Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.
"Again, just be ourselves," said Betts. "We can't go out and bang like them and can't do a lot of things they can do, but we can do what we can do. What we do got us in the playoffs, and I'm pretty sure it can win us the World Series, too."
Another dose of the broom treatment would make veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia seethe, particularly because he has battled a troublesome left knee injury all season and spent hours in the training room so he could be healthy enough to play in the playoffs.
Pedroia has been part of postseason comebacks before. In 2007, he helped spark a comeback from 3-1 down to beat the Indians in the ALCS. In '13, Pedroia and the Sox trailed the Cardinals, 2-1, in the World Series and took the next three games to win it all.
"We just have to go play well," said Pedroia. "That's it. You can't try and do too much. You just have to focus on one pitch at a time and try and win that pitch. They played great. They've done everything right, and we haven't done anything right. Hopefully getting back home and getting in front of our fans will give us a boost and get us back in this series."
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When the Red Sox arrived at Spring Training in February, the driving force was to erase the sour taste of last year's Division Series sweep at the hands of the Indians. To many players in the clubhouse, it feels like disbelief to be in danger of the same result again.
"No, no, not two years in a row," said DH Hanley Ramirez. "We have to find a way. That's why we're pros. We have to find a way to win tomorrow."
The Red Sox have a proud history, particularly in this 21st century, and having a second straight 93-win season and AL East title go for naught would be bitter for their rabid fan base.
"It's just tough," Ramirez said of the team's current situation. "We are the Red Sox. I think we should be in a better position right now. It is what it is. At the same time, like I say, we're the Red Sox. We've done this before and come back to win it all. We're not giving up. Just going to be great tomorrow."
Ramirez wants to hear the Fenway faithful from the first pitch to the last.
"They better to be ready to go. From 7 a.m., when you're eating breakfast, get your energy and come support us, and we're going to be ready to go," Ramirez said. "It is going to be different when you play in front of your fans. It is going to get loud."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.