A meek Game 6 ouster stings, but the Red Sox certainly overachieved, and left us wanting more again

The Red Sox certainly overachieved, and they left us wanting more again

Commentary Kyle Tucker’s three-run homer off Adam Ottavino finished off Boston’s surprising run to within two wins of the World Series. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

In the final defensive half-inning of the 2021 Red Sox season, Bobby Dalbec played second base. It was a first: Not only had he not played there in the majors, but also the minors, college, or his Cape Cod summer. He’d simply taken grounders there periodically for a month, Alex Cora fitting it under the guise of “you never know.”

It mattered little, the 5-0 Game 6 loss that put Houston back in the World Series was so complete. But it just strikes me as somehow fitting for this surprise ALCS entrant.

Cora didn’t push every right button in the end, but he couldn’t have squeezed another ounce from this Red Sox roster, rolling the bones to the final out. But after eight charmed months, the puzzle pieces stopped fitting. The tumblers stopped aligning. And a better team, top to bottom, put it in its place.

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“We had bigger goals, but to be honest with you, I’m very proud of the group,” Cora told reporters postgame. “I mean, we started off well. Then we kind of ran out of gas for a little bit, and then we came back. And then at one point we were going to play a four-team playoff, and…

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