Red Sox Chasing History This Season

Witnessing the Red Sox chasing history this season has become my new favorite thing. They are fifty games above .500 for the first time since 1946. That was the year the Red Sox lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. There’s something particularly special about this year’s team though. It’s not just Mookie Betts’ .350 batting average, or J.D. Martinez’s 37 home runs as of August 13th. It’s not even the fact that they are the only team with 80+ wins so far this season. Everyone in Red Sox Nation is talking about how amazing this year’s team is.

Although everyone knew this season would be great with the acquisition of J.D. Martinez, Ired sox chasing think it began to dawn on people that the 2018 Red Sox could become one of the best teams in franchise history when they swept the Yankees. It wasn’t just that they won all four games in the series at the beginning of August. It was what happened during the series that made people’s heads turn and jaws drop.

The first game Thursday night saw the Red Sox overcome a four-run deficit to win 15-7 on the back of Steve Pearce’s three home runs. The second game saw Rick Porcello retire the last twenty-one batters he faced for a one-hitter that could have been a perfect game if he hadn’t surrendered a home run to Miguel Andujar in the third. The third game saw Nathan Eovaldi take a shutout into the eighth inning. The fourth game, which the Yankees almost won, was the final nail in their coffin. Andrew Benintendi’s walk-off blooper through the Yankees’ defense shut down the Bronx Bombers for good.

Red Sox Chasing Destiny and History

The Red Sox are doing so well this season that I’m already thinking about how I’m going to afford World Series tickets. I foresee many weekday mornings where people will arrive at work with bags under their eyes. I foresee players on this year’s Red Sox roster taking home a Cy Young, MVP, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger Award. Finally, I see myself skipping work to watch the Red Sox World Series parade down Boylston Street.

Red Sox Post All-Star Break Review

The Boston Red Sox entered the All-Star break at 68-30. That was the best record in Major League Baseball, and they’ve kept a firm grasp on that honor. Back on July 2nd, Rick Porcello and the Sox took down the Washington Nationals 4-3. You may remember Porcello driving a shot into the gap and clearing the bases off a pitch from reigning NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer to put Boston ahead. They went on to win the next nine contests. In the series opener against the Blue Jays, you may remember Mookie Betts’ at-bat heard around the world when he launched a grand slam over the Green Monster on the 13th pitch he saw. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

Boston’s next loss came eleven days later, on Friday the 13th no less, in their second All Star breakgame against the Blue Jays. The bad luck didn’t last long, however. The following game, the Sox and Jays headed to extra innings knotted at 2 when Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. One run was all Boston needed, but Bogaerts went ahead and sent one over the fence in dead center instead, walking the game off in glorious fashion. It was Boston’s first walk-off grand slam since the year 2000.

Just a year after not hitting a single grand slam, the Sox, with nine at the break, are in striking distance of the franchise record for grand slams in a season (11), and the MLB record (14). The Red Sox concluded the first half winning 12 of their last 13 contests and 17 of their last 20. Now, as Boston’s dominant pace continues, let’s take a look back on the first half for the winningest team in Major League Baseball.

Starting Pitching

For the first time in Red Sox history, Boston entered the break with four pitchers with ten or more wins. Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez have eleven, while Chris Sale and David Price, each with ten, are just behind.

Rodriguez continues to progress in Boston, with his 11-3 record, 3.44 ERA, and 110 strikeouts on pace to be career-highs. He was just placed on the ten-day disabled list with a right ankle sprain and is still sidelined to this day. While Porcello hasn’t returned to his Cy Young form from two years ago, he remains a respectable arm in the middle of the rotation. However, Porcello looked like Cy Young himself in his recent start against the Yankees, where he tossed a complete, one-hit gem of a game that aided the Sox in their relentless sweep of New York, comfortably in second place in the AL East.

Price continues to be a wild card with his injury hiccups and apparent inability to pitch against the Yankees. At 10-6 with an ERA north of four, there is certainly room for improvement from Boston’s 217-million-dollar southpaw. While we’re on the subject, Price looked to find some sort of groove against the Yankees in their last series. He wasn’t dominant, but it was a significant step in the right direction. Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz will likely return to health soon after the break, and the claim for the fifth rotation spot is something to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, Sale, with an AL-best 2.23 ERA and MLB-best 188 strikeouts, is throwing as well as anyone in the MLB and is a front-runner for the American League Cy Young. I’ve paid my respects to him already.

Relief Pitching

In a word, unimpressive. We all know about Carson Smith by now. Joe Kelly has enjoyed a successful year as Boston’s setup man, but his ERA had ballooned to 4.31 recently after a stretch of shaky outings. Heath Hembree and Brian Johnson haven’t been anything special, and Tyler Thornburg had only appeared in four games. Craig Kimbrel had 30 saves at the break and continues to look like one of the best closers in baseball. But unfortunately, he can’t do it all.

Offense

The main reason for the best first half in franchise history? This right here. Mookie Betts led Major League Baseball with a .359 batting average and is gunning for MVP honors. J.D. Martinez, who batted .328, is third, and his 29 home runs and 80 runs batted in led the league at the break. The influence of Martinez on this lineup has been nothing short of incredible. He continues to make his case for one of the best free agent acquisitions the Red Sox have ever made. Expect his name right next to Mookie’s on the MVP ballot.

At the turning point in the season, Xander Bogaerts had already surpassed his 2017 home run total and matched his RBI total. Mitch Moreland played his way to his first career All-Star game in his second season in Beantown. Andrew Benintendi was flat out robbed of an All-Star appearance. He is on pace for career-highs in batting average, stolen bases, home runs, doubles, and RBI. The struggles of Jackie Bradley Jr. subsided as the first half wound down and he looks to have found some sort of groove at the plate. Newly acquired Steve Pearce is fitting in nicely so far. Through nine games, he’s batting .458 and is another cog in the stacked Red Sox lineup. Oh, and he absolutely torched the Yankees in the series sweep, hitting four dingers and driving in eight runs.

Review of the Red Sox After the All-Star Break

The Red Sox entered the break with a 4.5 game lead on the Yankees in the AL East, and it has skyrocketed since then. Betts, Martinez, Moreland, Sale, and Kimbrel all secured a trip to the All-Star Game. The Sox were the only team in the American League with multiple starters in the All-Star Game (Betts, Martinez).

Looking back, the Red Sox started the year 17-2 on their way to the best start in franchise history. And they hit the All-Star break after going 17-3 over their last 20. The Boston Red Sox are statistically the best team in Major League Baseball. If their historic first half is any indication, this ballclub will be a force to be reckoned with come October.

Red Sox Dominated 2018 All-Star Lineup

Five members of the Boston Red Sox played in the 2018 American League All-Star team this week. Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Chris Sale, and Craig Kimbrel represented Boston. As the Red Sox dominated the All-Star lineup this year, they got a taste of what they’ll be up against if and when they reach the World Series this season.

These Red Sox players brought a lot of history to Nationals Park this year. Chrisred sox dominate Sale started the All-Star game marking only the third time in history that a pitcher has started three straight All-Star games. The other two are Robin Roberts, and Lefty Gomez. Mookie Betts was named leadoff hitter for the American League team. Sale and Craig Kimbrel, Boston’s premier closer, now both have seven All-Star appearances. Surprisingly enough, this was only J.D. Martinez’s second All-Star game. He hit 45 home runs last year but didn’t make an All-Star appearance. SO what does all this mean? To Red Sox Nation, it’s a sign of what’s to come this fall. These All-Stars, a few of who are carrying Hall of Fame-worthy numbers, will carry the Red Sox to the post-season this year.

Red Sox Dominated All-Star Line-Up, And Possibly the National League Come October

The All-Star game itself saw its fair share of home runs. Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Jean Segura hit homers for the American League. Wilson Contreras, Christian Yelich, Scooter Gennett, Joey Votto, and Trevor Story hit home runs of their own for the National League. Overall there were ten home runs hit in this year’s All-Star game, breaking the 1971 record by four. This year’s All-Star game also saw 25 strikeouts. The American League went on to win their sixth straight All-Star game 8-6 in 10 innings.

The Red Sox have the best record in baseball right now. They’re 68-30 at the All-Star break. That’s slightly better than the World Series-defending champs Houston Astros. With four of their pitchers (Sale, Price, Rodriguez, and Porcello) projected to win 17 or more games this season, it’s clear the Red Sox have the pitching and the hitting to make it to the Fall Classic.

The Underappreciated Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland is an all-star. Yep, that is right. Whether that says more about the lack of first-base production in the A.L., or not, you can’t discredit what Mitch has done for the Red Sox thus far. Moreland’s numbers aren’t ungodly by any means, but he is incredibly consistent. Moreland currently sits at a very respectable .282, with 11 home runs and 45 runs batted in. Looking around the league, he more than deserves to be wearing that American League jersey next week.

Time and time again, when Boston needs a clutch hit, its often “Mitchy 2bags” thatMoreland delivers. While batting 4th, Alex Cora can count on him to drive in runs routinely and expect him to have game-altering at-bats. Moreland also is a great team leader, very durable and plays gold-glove defense, somewhat anchoring the infield with his almost non-existent errors.

Players and coaches acknowledge Moreland’s humble, yet steady baseball approach and awarded him with his first appearance. Around the league, Moreland has always been just a decent hitter with a stellar gold-glove. Now playing every day, he is putting up the numbers he is capable of. He will back up White Sox first-baseball Jose Abreu for the American League next week in the summer classic.

Mitch Moreland Is More Than Earning His Paycheck

This winter, Moreland became a free agent. Many thought that Dave Dombrowski would stay away from offering him a contract considering Hanley Ramirez was slated for first-base. Additionally, the inevitable mega J.D. Martinez contract was looming. Dombrowski acted quickly, however, and signed Mitch to a two-year 13 million dollar contract. Considering the lack of first base production around the league, the fact that Hanley was cut from Boston and his ability to be an underrated cleanup hitter for this potent offensive club, that contract is an absolute steal.

Moreland is making 6.5 million a year. When 2017 free agency opened, it seemed nobody had him in the same upper echelon of free agents in the likes of say Eric Hosmer or Carlos Santana. San Diego shelled out an immense 144 million dollar contract to Hosmer. Hosmer is hitting .253 this year, that seems underwhelming for that deal. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has to pay Santana 20 million annually for the next 3 years. Santana is currently hitting .214  I would have to say that the Red Sox like their underappreciated first-baseman just fine.

Can David Price Find A Stronger Groove?

Lasting only 4.2 innings, David Price gave up six hits and four earned runs, including a homer against Kansas City Friday night. But he stuck out nine in those four innings. That game flashed instances of greatness and weakness for Price. It’s almost like he’s another Steve Dalkowski. It was the second game in a row though that Price struggled in. So can David Price find his groove again?

The 2012 Cy Young Award winner got demolished in last week’s game against the Newdavid price find York Yankees. The eight earned runs he gave up in three innings not only temporarily surrendered first place to the Yankees in the AL East, but I had to listen to my mom, a Yankee fan, boast about it for an hour the next day. But it wasn’t just a bad outing for Price. It was a disaster, a CATASTROPHE! That’s why so many in Red Sox Nation are showing a little panic about Price’s recent performances.

Price not only gave up eight runs in 3.1 innings of work against the Yankees, he gave up FIVE home runs in three innings! Giving up five home runs in three innings is like a pigeon crapping on your shoulder five times during a three-minute walk. Many people chalked it up to Price’s history of poor pitching at Yankee Stadium. Price had a 2-4 record with a 6.15 ERA at Yankee Stadium BEFORE this season. Last week’s outing against the Yankees only went to show that he just doesn’t do well there.

Can David Price Find Better Success This Season?

Of course. It’s not like he’s washed up or anything. But according to ESPN, Price has a 17.18 ERA against the Rangers this year, who he almost faced this week. In the one game Price started against the Rangers this year, he gave up nine runs, seven of them earned, in only 3.2 innings. It’s hard to imagine that this didn’t give Alex Cora second thoughts about giving Price the game ball this week against Texas.

Regardless, Price has more than a few obstacles to overcome this season.

Chris Sale is Creeping Back Into the Cy Young Conversation

Believe it or not, but Chris Sale has never won a Cy Young award. Since entering the league, Boston’s ace has been nothing short of dominant year in and year out. His highest earned run average came in 2015 with the Chicago White Sox, when he posted a 3.41 with 13 wins and 11 losses. And he still messed around and placed fourth on the Cy Young ballot and earned an All-Star selection.

In his eight seasons as a starting pitcher, Chris Sale has appeared on the Cy Young ballot Chris Salesix times and finished as the runner-up last year in his first season with the Red Sox. He’s been named to the All-Star team in each of those seasons as well, and it’s only a matter of time before he takes home the most coveted pitching award in the MLB. On Sunday, Sale was announced as an All-Star for the seventh straight year. While he came out of the gates a bit shaky this year, Chris Sale’s recent performances has him right back where he belongs: firmly in the conversation for the best pitcher in the American League.

Last season, Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians took home the honor, and he deserved it. He went 18-4 with a 2.25 ERA and led his club to a first place finish in the AL Central. Kluber had the lowest WHIP (0.869) of any starter on the ballot, and the second most strikeouts (265). Who had the most strikeouts you ask? That would be Chris Sale, whose 308 punchouts comfortably led the entire MLB. The next closest was NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer with 268.

Chris Sale’s Competition

Sale’s competition this year will feature some familiar, and talented, names. Yankee ace Luis Severino, who placed third in voting last year, is building a strong case with his 14-2 record, 143 Ks, and 2.12 ERA, the second-best in the American League. Justin Verlander is emerging as an early favorite to take home his second career Cy Young with his 2.15 ERA and 154 strikeouts. Kluber, at 12-4 with a 2.49 ERA, will likely return to the ballot as well.

In comparison, the Red Sox ace leads the American League in strikeouts with 176, 18 ahead of Gerrit Cole’s tally of 158. His 2.36 ERA ranks fourth in the American League, and his WHIP of 0.89 is good for third, with Kluber (0.88) and Verlander (0.84) just edging him out. Lastly, Sale leads the AL in strikeouts per nine innings at 13.0, and if it holds this would be the fourth season he has done so.

Where Chris Sale will falter to his competition will be his record, as he is just 9-4 on the year. However, his wins and losses serve as a poor reflection of his performance this year. The Red Sox seemingly hate giving their ace any sort of run support. On the year, the Red Sox average 4.65 runs in games started by Sale, and it’s reflected in his four losses and an additional six no-decisions. Granted, I’m not saying Chris Sale has been perfect, but I am saying some more runs would go a long way.

Back in Form

Sale truly returned to form in June, striking out 60 and going 3-2 with a 1.76 ERA. The Red Sox scored a combined three runs in those two losses. His lone start in July follows the same positive trend, as he punched out 12 and secured a win behind 10 runs from his offense. He has won his last three starts, and, in those games, the Red Sox have scored 26 total runs.

Chris Sale still has some work to do if he wants to take home the honor this year. His slider is still one of the deadliest pitches in the league. He must sustain his recent dominance to keep pace with his competition. This offense has shown they are more than capable of providing run support, and if they simply do so when Sale is on the bump, his case for the American League Cy Young will continue to strengthen.