CLEVELAND -- And on the final day, the Boston Red Sox lost. With a record of 78-84 after a 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians, last place in the American League East was exclusively theirs in 2015, for the second straight year and third time in the last four.
The Sox, who lost their last four games, had not finished in last place in consecutive seasons since 1930, the last of six straight last-place finishes in the decade after the sale of Babe Ruth. The ’30 team finished with a record of 52-102, 50 games behind the first-place Philadelphia Athletics, and the manager, a former star player named Heinie Wagner, resigned the day after the season. It was the only time he managed in the big leagues. Wagner returned home to New Rochelle, New York, where he was a supervisor at the local lumberyard, a volunteer firefighter and managed the fire department and police department baseball teams.
Sunday morning, Red Sox president of baseball operations David Dombrowski announced that John Farrell, whose teams have finished last twice after winning the World Series in 2013, would be back to manage the team in 2016. Torey Lovullo, who served as interim manager in Farrell’s absence, is also coming back, in his former role as bench coach, Dombrowski buying him out of his right to apply for a manager’s job elsewhere this winter in case he is needed if Farrell’s health falters.
The finale, a 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians before a crowd of 17,844 on a lovely autumn day in Progressive Field, was a quiet affair. First-base coach Arnie Beyeler, whose contract was not renewed, brought out the lineup card for the final time. A plane pulling a “Red Sox Nation (hearts) Don Orsillo” banner flew overheard before the game. Rookie catcher Blake Swihart came out of the game after taking a foul tip off his right index finger. X-rays were negative; the club called it a bruise.
By the end, most of the regulars were out. David Ortiz was lifted for a pinch-runner after drawing a walk in the sixth. Ortiz also doubled home Boston’s only run with his 37th double of the season, scoring Xander Bogaerts, who hit his 35th double, his 196th hit of the season. Ortiz finished the season with 37 home runs, his most since hitting a club-record 54 in 2006. Mookie Betts went hitless in four trips and was 0 for Cleveland (0-for-10), his final average dropping to .292 after a splendid season.
Rick Porcello suffered his 15th loss, most in his career, although he pitched creditably, allowing three runs (two earned) in seven innings, allowing 10 hits and a walk.