After yet another come-from-behind win, the Red Sox are riding high at 80 wins. Forget about 1978 and 2011 for a little while and enjoy where we are.
On July 22, the Boston Red Sox became the first team in the Majors to reach 70 wins. Now, just 17 days later, they have become the first team in baseball to get to 80 wins.
In that span, they have gone 11-3 while playing two division leaders in the Yankees and Phillies. They’ve scored 79 runs in that span and have scored double-digits three times. Their pitchers have given up four or fewer runs 11 times.
Overall, Boston’s 80 wins are the most through their first 114 games in franchise history. Interestingly, it puts them on pace for just about 114 wins, which would tie the 1998 Yankees for third most of all-time. They are the only team with a .700 winning percentage or better (.702) and it isn’t particularly close (Houston is second at .635), and their nine-game division lead is second largest in baseball.
This is a team with two legitimate MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, the Cy Young frontrunner in Chris Sale, three players (Betts, Martinez and Andrew Benintendi) in the top-20 of fWAR and the most runs scored in baseball, by a significant margin.
The 2018 Red Sox are having one of the best seasons in franchise history, and when it is all said and done, it could be one of the best seasons in league history.
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These days, it’s popular to bring up 1978 and 2011. The 1978 team was up by as many as nine games midway through August. But an infamous one-game playoff against the Yankees at Fenway spoiled their season. The 2011 team was also infamous for their failures. They failed to protect a nine-game lead in the Wild Card that they held on September 3 and were officially ousted from the playoffs on the last day of the season, in heartbreaking fashion.
So yes, there is legitimate reason to be wary of how the rest of this season could go because of the similarities between the three teams (and because there still might be some leftover pre-2004 mentality that nothing ever goes right for the Boston Red Sox). But it shouldn’t take away from the excitement that this current group brings night in and night out.
On any given night, it feels like this group has a chance to win because that is what they’ve done in 70 percent of their games. Even when they are down by three runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball, there is still that feeling that they will find a way to squeak out a win.
Except, this team doesn’t just squeak out wins. They win in dramatic fashion. When they take a 5-3 lead in the top of the eighth after being picked apart for the first seven innings, it isn’t a surprise. And then when the offense backs up their slumping closer and hits two absolute bombs in the top of the 10th, we smile, shake our heads and say, “This team, man.”
After 114 games, we have come to expect this Red Sox team to win every game. That’s why each loss is magnified, examined and picked apart to no end. They are so few and far between that something major had to have gone wrong for the number in the “L” column to go up.
This team plays with an under the radar swagger and quiet poise, which is a product of first-year manager Alex Cora telling his players to understand just how good they are. Not only do they understand it, but more often than not, they embrace it and play like they know they’re the better team, which they almost always are.
When someone brings up past failures in the franchise’s history, don’t let it phase you. The Red Sox are fun and they should be fun for almost three more months. They might not finish the year with the most wins in a season in MLB history, or even in Red Sox history. But right now, they have legitimate shots at both of those records. Part of the fun of sports is in the hope that they bring, and right now, the Red Sox have big hopes and a ceiling higher than the Green Monster. So sit back, enjoy the ride and soak in this wonderful season.