The Red Sox have been on a roll since the beginning of the month.
The Sox have won their last six series, including the most recent one with a sweep of the Tigers. They are 10-1-2 in their last 13 series, including three sweeps, after going 1-7-1 in their first nine series of the season. The Sox are 16-4 this month, outscoring opponents, 98-59. They are a season-high eight games over .500 at 39-31.
But their schedule is about to get tougher.
The Red Sox begin a three-game road series Friday against the Guardians (36-29),who won their just-completed three-game set against the Twins. The Twins (39-32) took the finale on Thursday. The clubs are tied for first place in the American League Central.
The Red Sox then travel to Toronto for a three-game set with the Blue Jays, a team that took three of four from the Sox at Rogers Centre at the end of April. The Sox are 2-5 against the Blue Jays this year.
The Sox then have a series in Chicago against the Cubs, but their schedule gets tough again with a seven-game homestand against the Rays and Yankees, then a four-game set against the Rays at Tropicana Field and a three-game series with the Yankees in the Bronx before the All-Star break.
The Sox dropped series to the Rays and Yankees, both on the road, in April. The Rays have lost outfielders Manuel Margot and Kevin Kiermaier to injuries but are getting shortstop Wander Franco back after a quadriceps injury.
The coming weeks will be a test for the Red Sox, but manager Alex Cora said his team was battle-tested, even before the recent hot steak.
“I mean, it all depends on how you look at it,” Cora said. “The White Sox are a good team. The Angels, everybody thought they were a good team. Seattle, everybody thought they were a good team. It just depends how you see it. We played Houston and beat them two out of three. The schedule is the schedule.”
The Sox won at least one series against each of the teams Cora mentioned. But those teams, with the exception of the Astros, are not the equals of the Sox’ upcoming opponents, which includes a Yankees team that came into Thursday with 51 wins. Nonetheless, the Sox clearly have improved since the start of the season. They aren’t that team anymore.
“We’re a different team compared to a month and a half ago,” Cora said, “and we’ll take our chances and see where it takes us. The same way we respect [our upcoming opponents], I know they respect us. They see it. We’re ready. Enjoy the grind.”
The Red Sox’ matchup with the Guardians is their first of the season. Cleveland has been one of the biggest surprises of the year, led by an MVP candidate José Ramirez, who is hitting .301/.391/1.014 with 16 homers and has struck out just 21 times. The Guardians are 15-5 in June and recently took a series from the Dodgers.
“They have been playing some pretty good baseball,” said Red Sox outfielder Rob Refsnyder.
Ready to play
The Red Sox have played 70 games, and Rafael Devers has played 68 of them. Devers had a rare night off in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over the Tigers.
“If it were up to me I would play 162 games,” Devers said. “There are some times the body might ask you for some time off, but that’s why I prepare myself for the season.”
Devers’s 68 games ranked third in the majors entering Thursday.
Downs back to Triple A
The Red Sox optioned Jeter Downs to Triple A Worcester Thursday. Downs made his major league debut at third base Wednesday night, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts . . . Christian Arroyo will likely be activated off the COVID-related injured list for the series opener against the Guardians. Arroyo played in two rehab games for the WooSox . . . Josh Taylor made his second rehab appearance in three days for Worcester, tossing a scoreless first inning in which he allowed a hit and walk with a strikeout . . . Nick Pivetta will toe the slab against Cleveland’s Cal Quantrill Friday night, Josh Winckowski will match up against Shane Bieber on Saturday, and Rich Hill will take the ball against Aaron Civale on Sunday.
Alex Speier of the Globe staff contributed to this report.