The Red Sox season will be a make or break on the road since the remainder of the schedule is road game heavy – usually, that means trouble for Boston.
The Boston Red Sox view the road games as a place where pennant hopes go to die. The old baseball axiom of play .500 at home and .600 on the road often has vanished with the Red Sox and they are not alone. Teams will generally design their roster to take into account their home field. A big ballpark and you look for speed and defense. With the Red Sox, it is the big right-handed bat for the comfortable shot into left.
The Red Sox often had lineups loaded with hitters and that would mean prodigious numbers at home and you still see it. The Red Sox simply hit better at home, but are no slouches on the road. The team is ripe with solid contact hitters, OBP hitters and some excellent speed.
They can score at home or on the road. The Red Sox after 40 road games lead the American League in road average, OBP, and OPS while averaging slightly over five runs a game. The Red Sox have also played the fewest road games, so I will put a hold on extra base hits and some other cumulative numbers.
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The Red Sox now face a daunting schedule and it starts with the worst possible trips – a West Coast swing. The end of July and early August sees Boston go to the Los Angeles area to play the Angels in four games. From there it is up the coast to Seattle for four games and back to Los Angeles for three against the Dodgers. Eleven games that will give an indication of just how the rest of the season will transpire.
No trip to the west can be considered easy as the games have an eerie way of making a nice season into a miserable one. The Angels can be down and out, only to sweep – a thought I will certainly keep stored somewhere in a very bad place in my mind.
I took a look back into previous championship years to see just how that axiom worked out? One thing that came as a shock that I had forgotten about was 1975. The 1975 team went 48-31 (.608) on the road and 47-34 (.580) at home. Rare is a Red Sox team better on the road than at home.
In 1986 it was 44-36 (.530) on the road. The championship teams also were well above .500 in 2004 at 43-38 (.531), 45-36 (.556) for 2007 and 44-37 (.543) in 2013. This season Boston is 21-19.
Now for my favorite year in which no World Series Championship flag was raised – 1967.
The 1967 season was something very special and resuscitated a franchise that had become a baseball joke with fat contracts, a losing mentality and a general indifference by the fans. In 1967 it came down to the end of the season and the final road tally was 43-38 (.531).
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The schedule in 1967 had multiple trips to the west and some road trips that were exceptionally long. From June 26th to July 9th the Red Sox had a 13-game road trip with visits to Minnesota, Kansas City, California and Detroit with a 6-7 record that dropped the surprising Red Sox six games back.
In early August road disaster struck again with a 2-7 trip to Minnesota, Kansas City, and California leaving them 2.5 games behind. This somewhat puts a damper on a 10-game winning streak from July 14th through 23rd that included six victories in a row on the road.
The Red Sox showed resilience on the road and that came in two trips. In late August the Red Sox finished off visits to Chicago and New York by going 6-3 and in late September came a trip to Detroit and a stop in Baltimore with a 6-2 record that left the Red Sox one-half game out.
The last two road trips I mentioned were significant and if that club was going to die it would be road kill and it just didn’t happen. The season finished with the dramatic sweep of the Twins and the rest is Red Sox history.
What will this season bring? Each of the teams mentioned that one had excellent road records. The schedule for the rest of the season is road heavy and how the season finishes will be affected by the trips – especially out west. This next sojourn will either enrage or invigorate The Nation.