The Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles in a one-game “series”
The narrative that the 2022 Boston Red Sox are incapable of winning a series against an AL East opponent has mercifully been vanquished.
Well, sort of.
On Thursday, the Sox managed to hold on to a 4-3 lead against the Baltimore Orioles. Boston struck first with consecutive doubles in the first inning by Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo. The 300th double of his career put Bogaerts in exclusive company in franchise history. He is one of only eight players to collect 150+ home runs and 300+ doubles in a Red Sox uniform, per FanGraphs. His 300 doubles are the second-most by a Red Sox player before turning 30, behind only Carl Yastrzemski (312).
Boston tacked on a couple of runs in the third inning but Baltimore stormed back to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning. Eric Hosmer’s double to deep center field drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth.
The much-maligned Red Sox bullpen combined for 3 1/3 shutout innings to slam the door shut on a desperately needed victory that pulled Boston to within four games of the O’s in the standings and 4.5 games of the final Wild Card spot.
The trip to Fenway Park was a short one for the O’s. The Red Sox captured the only win during Baltimore’s brief visit but does one game really count as a series?
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it does count, as MLB.com’s Ian Browne confirmed. The Red Sox are now officially 1-10-1 in “series” against AL East teams this season.
The term “series” is used loosely here. Whether or not the Sox deserve to be credited for a series win is up for debate.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a series, at least in sports terms, as a number of games played usually on consecutive days between two teams. A one-game series does not fit that description, which implies the number of games is plural.
From 2012-2021, excluding the unprecedented events of the shortened 2020 season, MLB held a one-game, winner-take-all, postseason event between a pair of Wild Card teams in each league. This was known as the Wild Card Game. Did anyone ever refer to it as the Wild Card Series?
The rare one-game meeting between the Red Sox and Orioles was the result of MLB reorganizing the schedule after the lockout delayed the start of the 2022 season. These teams were initially expected to play a three-game series in the first week of the season but those games had to be rescheduled. Two of the games were pushed to May when the Sox and Orioles met for five games over the course of four days, including a doubleheader on May 28. Baltimore took three out of five in that series. Rather than try to squeeze a sixth game into four days, the final makeup game was set for a mutual off-day, which had to wait until August.
This doesn’t feel all that different from a game that was postponed due to the weather being made up later in the season. The team that wins that makeup game isn’t credited with a series victory for that one game, it’s the continuation of their series from earlier in the year. The circumstances are different in this case but it should still be treated the same.
Perhaps the Red Sox don’t deserve credit for winning a one-game “series” but our perception of the outcome doesn’t matter as much as how it’s viewed in the clubhouse. From the player’s perspective, they can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they finally beat an AL East opponent. How many games the series lasted hardly matters to them, it still gets the monkey off their backs. They also improved to 16-17 in one-run games and snapped a four-game losing streak.
If there is any hope remaining for the Red Sox to climb back into the Wild Card hunt, they need to beat teams in their division. Even if it was only one game, the win over Baltimore proved they could do it. If that boosts their confidence heading into a weekend series with the division-leading Yankees, that matters far more than debating the semantics of how a series is defined.