It’s not quite Halley’s Comet, but the stars rarely align to produce regular seasons like the one the 2018 Red Sox are experiencing, or events within it, such as the just-completed four-game sweep against the Yankees.
With more than two-thirds of the season completed, the Red Sox can’t take their position atop the American League East by a whopping 9½ games for granted. (The 2011 Red Sox, who were 11 games ahead of the Rays through 113 games, and 1978 Red Sox, who were up nine games through 116 games, wave hello.) But the rarity of what the Red Sox are accomplishing likewise can’t be ignored.
As the Red Sox continue to amass wins at a dizzying pace, the challenge of finding precedent becomes more challenging. Some context for both what was seen over the weekend and what has been seen thus far in 2018:
■ The Red Sox continue to steamroll their way through wins at a pace matched by few teams in history. They improved to 79-34, a .699 winning percentage that is tied for the fourth-best through 113 games since the introduction of divisions to baseball in 1969. The previous four teams to play at such a level to this point averaged 111 regular-season victories.
|Year||113-game record||Reg. season record||Playoffs|
|1998 Yankees||84-29 (.743)||114-48||Won World Series|
|2001 Mariners||82-31 (.726)||116-46||Lost ALCS|
|2017 Dodgers||80-33 (.708)||104-58||Lost World Series|
|2018 Red Sox||79-34 (.699)||?||?|
|1969 Orioles||79-34 (.699)||109-53||Lost World Series|
■ If the Red Sox go 21-27 (.438) down the stretch, they’ll cruise to their first 100-win season since 1946.
■ If the Red Sox go 27-21 (.562) down the stretch, they’ll surpass the 1912 Red Sox for the most wins in a season in franchise history (105).
■ The Red Sox swept a series of four or more games against the Yankees for the seventh time in the last 100 years. While they had done so as recently as 2016, the prior such series sweep had come in 1990. The four-game sweep was the first by the Red Sox against a team that had started the series with a record that was at least 30 games over .500 since they blitzed the 1939 Yankees over five games.
|Aug. 2-5, 2018||4|
|Sept. 15-18, 2016||4|
|June 4-7, 1990||4|
|Sept. 22-25, 1969||4|
|July 9-13, 1959||5|
■ Entering Sunday’s game, Aroldis Chapman had been entrusted with a lead of three runs 88 times in his career. He had fumbled that advantage just three times (3.4 percent) before he failed to secure the 4-1 advantage Sunday night in the Red Sox’ 5-4 walkoff win. In three years with the Yankees, Chapman has been charged with just nine blown saves; three of those have come against a Red Sox team that looks unusually comfortable against him. “Statistics show any time you face a reliever, the more you face him, the odds begin to swing in a hitter’s favor,” observed J.D. Martinez.
■ Over the final three games of the series, the Red Sox got three straight dominant starts. Rick Porcello (nine innings, one run), Nathan Eovaldi (eight shutout innings), and David Price (six-plus innings, two runs) became the first three Red Sox starters to put together three straight starts of at least six innings and no more than two runs allowed against the Yankees since Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz in August 2009. “I don’t think anybody’s thrown the ball better than us since the All-Star break,” observed Price.
■ The Red Sox’ 9½-game lead in the division is their largest since the final days of the 2013 championship season. The last time they had a lead of more than 9½ games was in another season that ended with a trophy, 2007.
The typical disclaimers apply: What the Red Sox accomplish in the regular season has no real bearing on what happens in October. For that matter, their steady march through the summer to this point is not a guarantee of what will happen over the remainder of the regular season.
All the same, the 2018 Red Sox continue to win in a fashion that has few precedents over the full expanse of the franchise’s 118 years of existence.