This past weekend, the Red Sox swept the New York Yankees for the second time in the 2021 season. Prior to the season starting, nobody saw the Red Sox as being favorites in the 2021 American League East. However, we are closing in on the halfway mark, and they are currently sitting on top of the division. The Yankees on the other hand, are in fourth place behind the Toronto Blue Jays. Even without their ace, Chris Sale, the Red Sox have been doing very well in games this season, especially against their division. They are currently 20-10 against teams in the American League East and are in a battle with Tampa Bay to be in first place.
In his second season as President of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox, Chaim Bloom made some moves that once again, had Red Sox fans scratching their heads. From signing free agents such as Kike Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe, to trading fan favorite, Andrew Benintendi, many believed this team wouldn’t have what it takes to compete in the American League East. The one thing that did make sense was bringing back Alex Cora as the manager of the Boston Red Sox. Cora was officially re-introduced as manager on November 6th, 2020. After a disappointing 2020 season that saw the Red Sox go 24-36, many Red Sox fans were excited to see Cora back at the helm. Cora, who was suspended one year following the results of the Houston Astros cheating scandal, came back to Boston knowing that the organization had faith in his ability to manage this team.
Can The Red Sox Stay On Top In The American League East?
Despite their success so far in 2021, the Boston Red Sox aren’t favorites to win the American League East division. At least, not yet. While the team seems to be clicking and heading in the right direction, there are other teams to look at. One team in particular is the Tampa Bay Rays. The 2020 American League champions were so close to winning their first World Series in 2020, but ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, they are looking to go back to the fall classic, even if it means knocking out the Red Sox. The Rays, led by former Red Sox catcher, Kevin Cash, only lost a few key members of the 2020 team. Hunter Renfroe signed with the Red Sox in the offseason, and their ace, Blake Snell, was traded to the San Diego Padres in December. Tampa Bay did bring in two reliable starting pitchers in Rich Hill and Michael Wacha to fill the holes that Snell and Charlie Morton left in the rotation. Tampa Bay does have some good offensive power with Randy Arozarena and Joey Wendle in their lineup. When the Red Sox played Tampa Bay earlier in June, they promoted top prospect, Wander Franco to the Major Leagues. In his first Major League game, Franco went 2-4 against Boston, including a home run off of Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Red Sox have been on a tear since day one of the season. Granted, in their first series, they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles. Following that, everyone immediately wrote them off. They weren’t going to be that great, and they’re not going to improve upon the 2020 season. Then, out of nowhere, the offense started clicking, and the pitching was on fire. Lead by the offensive power of JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, and great pitching by Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta, the Red Sox won nine in a row. Overall, Alex Cora’s team went 17-10 in April. This allowed them to be 3.5 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.
Looking Ahead At The Half Way Point
Following a disappointing 2020 season, the Red Sox had a lot of work to do in order to contend. Bringing back Martin Perez, while bringing in Hunter Renfroe, Kike Hernandez and Adam Ottavino has definitely paid off for the Red Sox so far this season. In the offseason, Red Sox fans saw fan favorites Jackie Bradley Jr leave via free agency, and Andrew Benintendi get traded to the Kansas City Royals. Many questioned these moves at first, however, they are starting to pay off. Hunter Renfroe is a force for Boston, not only with his cannon of an arm, but with his bat as well. Kike Hernandez has also proven to be a star here after spending the past few seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Adam Ottavino, who spent the last two seasons with the Yankees, was traded to Boston prior to the season. Now, he’s one of Cora’s go to guys in the bullpen, and he is probably making Brian Cashman rethink the trade.
There is so much talent up and down the Red Sox roster, it’s amazing that even after they swept the Yankees at Fenway Park, they’re not seen as favorites to win the American League East. Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays have been staying in the fight, however, the 2021 Red Sox team has come from behind multiple times to win important baseball games. In a way, they also can be compared to the 2013 team that won the World Series. A group of baseball players that everyone wrote off, kind of like with the team the Red Sox have now. We’re closing in on the half way point of the season, and the Red Sox do seem unstoppable.