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The Boston Red Sox: A big August win

Welcome to August baseball. It’s a time where some teams make playoff pushes, some call up young talent and some of the best teams in baseball overreact when something moderately bad happens.

The Boston Red Sox, entering Wednesday night’s game, with the Cleveland Indians were 8.0 games up in the A.L. East and 49 games above .500. They had lost three straight games and the first two in a four-game series against the Indians. The Red Sox are the only team in baseball who hasn’t lost four straight games this season. However, heading into the Wednesday night match-up, it felt like a must win for them moving forward.

The Injuries:

One of the biggest things causing panic in Boston is the injuries to starters. They have lost Rafael Devers a couple of times to the 10-day Disabled List and even in the few mixed stints when he has come back, he hasn’t gotten in enough rhythm to get back to consistent baseball.

Boston Red Sox
Chris Sale (41) Credit: Jasen Vinlove USA TODAY Sports

They have now been without Eduardo Rodriguez since July 14. The left-hander had become one of the Red Sox most consistent and dominant starters. He is 11-3 this season with a 3.44 ERA. He and David Price have really come along to back up Chris Sale in the rotation.

Speaking of Chris Sale, as of this week he has headed back to the 10-day Disabled List for the second time. This time, he has expressed the fact that it is far less serious and more precautionary. However, Sale has been pitching on a career pace since the All-Star break. In only three pitching performances since, Chris Sale is 3-0. He has given up just six hits in 17 innings and has yet to give up a run. He has walked just two and struck out 31 batters in those 17 innings.

Sale has given up one earned run in his last seven starts, a span of 44 innings. He has 79 strikeouts over that time. Not having a stopper like Chris Sale in the Red Sox pitching rotation was more than a cause for concern when they started a three-game losing streak.

Beating a good team at their best:

At the very least, the Boston Red Sox are showing that they can beat the team that eliminated them from the 2017 playoffs. Many refer to the Indians as a mirror image of the Boston Red Sox. Edwin Encarnacion came back from the Disabled List just in time for Wednesday’s battle. Beating the Indians at their best built a lot of confidence for the Red Sox.

This season against the other four probable A.L. playoff teams the Red Sox are: Houston 2-2, Cleveland 2-2, Yankees 8-5 and Athletics 2-4. If the Red Sox win one game or less, there is cause for concern. They would be showing a weakness and a lack of beating a good team.

Calming the Nerves:

What’s concerning is what the Red Sox and the Yankees have left. They see each other in six of Boston’s last 33 games. The Red Sox play 18 of those 33 games against teams with a winning record. The Yankees play just 16 games against teams with winning records and have seven games left against the last place Baltimore Orioles.

By no means is the sky falling in Boston. In fact, it’s the very opposite. The Red Sox are the first team to 90 wins and no other team has more than 79. However they were trending the wrong way, missing two of their top three pitchers, and in jeopardy of letting the Yankees that much closer.

What the Red Sox don’t want to do is make their last six games against the Yankees mean something. They don’t want the pressure of having to win a one-game wildcard game where anything can happen. Whether they are up 20 games or just two, the Boston Red Sox are trying to get more than just one guaranteed game come October.

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