At this point, everyone knows the Red Sox have not been playing well. There has been plenty of discussion regarding team’s slump. The Red Sox have the ability to break out of this slump. The upcoming stretch of the season is the perfect opportunity for the Red Sox to do so. Otherwise, that panic button will become more and more tantalizing.
AL East Madness
From August 6 to the 18, Boston will play 18 straight games against AL East opponents. This late in the season, the importance of these series cannot be understated. The Red Sox currently are playing a four-game series in Toronto for the first time in two years. Following this series, the Red Sox will have a homestand at Fenway where they will face the Rays, Orioles and the Yankees.
Once almost 10-games back from Boston, both the Yankees and Blue Jays have been making a push. In their last 10 games, both Toronto and New York have gone 8-2. Not helping their own situation, the Red Sox have gone 3-7 at the same time. Not only has this allowed the Jays and Yanks to close the gap, but it also has allowed Tampa Bay to swipe away first place from Boston.
This coming stretch of games almost needs to be a reset button for the Red Sox. Just scrapping by going .500 in this stretch won’t do it. That would most likely ruin Boston’s hopes of first place and even potentially make a wild card spot a question mark. The Red Sox need to return to form, and Alex Cora most likely has reminded the players this.
A Return Of Harsh Memories
One of the biggest reasons why Boston fans have been so hung up on this slump is because many feel this reminds them of one particular season. In 2011, the Red Sox similarly were dominant in the first half of the season. Following the All-Star break though, that changed.
In the second have of the 2011 season, the Red Sox went 35-37. This cost Boston the division title. But rather more infamously, the Red Sox lost a wildcard berth following a loss in Baltimore in the 162nd game of the season. There were a lot of questions following the 2011, and many of the answers were not pretty. Players were giving up, pitchers were drinking beer in the club house, not exactly the stuff you expect from a professional ballclub.
Is This Just Boston Hot Air?
Boston is one of the toughest markets to play in, especially for baseball. Expectations are set very high by both fans and the media that teams are almost expected to always be contenders. This is why when any team goes into a slump like the Red Sox have, concerns are shouted from atop the Old North Church for all to hear. The 2011 team had a lot of underlying problems that 2021 Red Sox do not have, making these comparisons is frankly unwarranted.
For the Red Sox to return to form on this stretch would be the best way to quell those voices. The Jays and Yanks may have closed the gap, but they still aren’t just a game behind Boston. The Rays may be in first, but only by a game and a half. This stretch is the perfect opportunity for Boston to recapture first place and cement its hold on it. Otherwise this season will be compared to 2011 by more fans.
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