Red Sox must capitalize on homestand before the schedule gets brutal

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 18: Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 of the Boston Red Sox runs out onto the field prior to the start of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on April 18, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 18: Jackie Bradley Jr. #19 of the Boston Red Sox runs out onto the field prior to the start of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park on April 18, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The Red Sox need to pad their win total during this homestand

The Boston Red Sox have returned from a wildly successful west coast road trip that has vaulted them into a Wild Card spot. If they intend to cling to their postseason position, the Red Sox will need to capitalize on their upcoming schedule.

Boston went 8-2 on their latest road trip. It’s the first time the Red Sox have won eight-plus games on a road trip since 2017 and their first west coast trip with that many wins since 1995.

The Red Sox should be thrilled with these results but the competition wasn’t exactly fierce. They swept an Oakland A’s team that leads the majors with 41 losses, caught the Los Angeles Angels at the tail end of an epic 14-game losing streak, then capped the trip by taking two out of three against a disappointing Seattle Mariners team that they had swept at Fenway last month.

Long west coast trips can be challenging but the Red Sox still managed to feast on inferior opponents. That’s what good teams do – beat the teams you’re supposed to beat.

That’s what they need to do during this upcoming homestand, which kicks off with a three-game series with the A’s. Boston outscored this team 20-4 during the sweep in Oakland. There’s no reason why they should allow the A’s to hang with them in this series.

The difficult portion of the homestand invites the St. Louis Cardinals to town. The NL Central-leading Cardinals are certainly no pushover but they were swept in Tampa Bay to wrap up their last road trip and they have dropped five of their last 10 games. St. Louis is barely above .500 on the road (16-15).

The Cardinals pitching staff has been middle of the pack this month, ranking 15th in the majors with a 4.47 ERA, per FanGraphs. Red Sox pitchers lead the majors with a 2.10 ERA in June.

As was the case when they saw the reeling Angels in Anaheim, the Red Sox might be catching a talented Cardinals team at an opportune time. We shouldn’t assume a sweep against a team of this caliber but this is a series the Red Sox should win at home.

The homestand wraps up with three games against the Detroit Tigers. Boston took two out of three when they went to Detroit in April. The Tigers might be without one of their prized free-agent acquisitions for this series. Eduardo Rodriguez has been placed on the restricted list after informing the team that he will not rejoin them at this time due to “personal matters,” according to FanSided’s Robert Murray.

The Tigers (.400) and A’s (.339) own two of the three worst winning percentages in the American League. That’s a soft schedule for this homestand, even if the Cardinals recover to play to their potential.

Beating up on the bad teams sounds simple but the Red Sox failed to do so during their last homestand, losing three out of five games to the lowly Baltimore Orioles and splitting a pair of games with the Cincinnati Reds. Four losses in seven games against last-place teams is an unacceptable outcome.

The Red Sox have a losing record at home this season (13-14). That can’t remain the case at the end of this homestand. They need to pad their win total before the next road trip because the schedule is going to get a lot tougher.

The next road trip starts in Cleveland against a Guardians team that is currently their closest challenger for the third Wild Card spot, sitting only a half game behind Boston. Then the Red Sox cross the border to face the Blue Jays, who own the top Wild Card spot. Boston will need to protect any late leads they get in Toronto without the unvaccinated Tanner Houck, who has emerged as a potential closer candidate.

Boston gets a breather to wrap up the road trip against the Chicago Cubs, who have lost seven straight and eight of their last 10. If they stumble in Cleveland or Toronto, at least they have an opportunity to salvage the trip against another struggling team.

They had better take care of business in Chicago. Once the Red Sox finish this current homestand, the Cubs are the only team with a losing record they will see before the All-Star break.

The schedule leading up to the break is absolutely brutal. Boston has 14 consecutive games against either the Rays or Yankees. A seven-game homestand against those two AL East rivals followed by seven where they travel to face those same opponents.

By the time they come out of the break, Boston will need to determine if they are buyers or sellers with the trade deadline looming at the end of July. With the potential to slip in the standings with so many games against the league’s best teams on the horizon, the Red Sox better beat the bad teams in the meantime.

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