A major theme with the Red Sox this year has been the team's tightness and close bond that they share. The players don’t care who gets the credit, as long the team wins. This is a big reason why they have been so successful with the number of guys that see playing time, and even the number of players who get pinch-hit for at a given game. Players aren’t griping when they get removed from a game, they understand the situation and want what is best for the team.
“We’ve come to find out their priorities is winning baseball games,” manager John Farrell said. “I think that is why this team has gelled so well together and become so close-knit, because they share that same common thought and that is to do just that, whatever it takes."
Not only did this take place almost on a daily basis in the regular season, it happened in every game of the ALDS against Tampa.
“I think this past series showed there are many ways we can go about that and I think the one that stands out is they are well aware of the game situation as it is unfolding and how do we best respond to that given the strengths of the individual or given the strengths of where we might be in the lineup at a given point,” Farrell said. “I think it’s their experience and willingness to do whatever it takes.”
One situation that stands out more than others is in Game 4 of the ALDS when Xander Bogaerts pinch-hit for Stephen Drew in the top of the seventh with the Red Sox trailing, 1-0. Bogaerts drew a walk and eventually scored the tying run. Then, Bogaerts led off the ninth inning with a walk and came around to score the third Red Sox run and each time Bogaerts returned to the dugout Drew was one of the first players to congratulate him. The 30-year-old Drew is playing in his eighth big league season and didn’t seem to mind at all that a 21-year-old rookie pinch-hit for him in a playoff game.
The same goes for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia when he was pinch-hit for by Jonny Gomes in the seventh and replaced by David Ross behind the plate. Saltalamacchia was on the top step of the dugout, leading the cheers. It even continues with left fielders Gomes, Daniel Nava and Mike Carp. The three of them know only one can start each game, and it’s possible they can be replaced within a given game. But each have accepted that fact, because once again, it appears to be all about the team with this year's group.
“The biggest thing is we all know our position on the team," Saltalamacchia said. "We all know what our role is and we prepare every day for it, and we prepare everyday to play, so we’re already ahead of the game. We’re not caught off guard when it is our turn to come in and we know the situation.”
It’s that team-first attitude displayed by all 25 players on the roster which has been a major reason why the Red Sox have advanced as far as they have in what has truly been an incredible season.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84