By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox lost their series in New York over the weekend. Instead of leaving the Bronx with a two-game lead in the division, the Red Sox left New York tied, which is too bad for them. But any lingering disappointment is unlikely to last very long.
That’s because, in a season where the disparity between the haves and the have-nots is as wide as it’s ever been, the Red Sox should find themselves on easy street for just about the entirety of July.
They’ll open with a three-game set in Washington against a Nationals team that is an underwhelming 42-40. Yet those mediocre National will represent the best Red Sox opponent for the next seven series. Seven!
Here’s what the Red Sox schedule will look like over the next four series before the All-Star break, with each team’s current record prominently displayed:
Three games at Washington (42-40)
Three games at Kansas City (25-58)
Three games vs. Texas (38-47)
Four games vs. Toronto (39-45)
The combined record of the Red Sox’ next four opponents is 144-190. The average record of those opponents is 36-48. Boy oh boy, that is foul stuff.
And after the All-Star break? It’s just as bad.
Three games at Detroit (38-48)
Three games at Baltimore (24-59)
Four games vs. Minnesota (35-45)
That’s a combined record of 97-152, or an average record of 32-51. Gross!
It is then that finally the Red Sox will face a team that may end up in the postseason when they host the Philadelphia Phillies, who are currently 45-37. That series will last for a whopping two games. (Side note: Gabe Kapler may get his warmest welcome of the year in any ballpark, including his own.) After that, the Red Sox will host the Yankees for a four-game set that is sure to generate even more hype than this previous series in New York.
That’s in part due to the implications from a standings perspective, but also because at least in Boston, everyone will be starved of good baseball at that point. (The Yankees do have several series against the Orioles and Royals of the world, but do also play the Braves and Indians this month.)
But between now and the Red Sox’ series against Philadelphia, Boston will face seven opponents. Only one of them owns a record better than .500. One has a winning percentage that’s hovering a tick above .300, and another owns an unfathomable sub-.300 winning percentage. Combined, the seven teams are 241-342.
Let’s repeat that one, in bold: The Red Sox’ next seven opponents own a combined record of 241-342. That is (quick math check … OK, yes) one-hundred-and-one games under .500.
That is so very bad.
The Red Sox, currently at 56-29, should have no issues whatsoever in putting together something close to 17-6 record over the next 23 games.
Much has been made this season about the fact that there are a number of teams on pace for 100 wins and equally as many teams on pace for 100 losses. It’s one of the least competitive seasons in MLB history. It’s an issue that could have been — and was — foreseen before spring training even began (unless you’re Rob Manfred), and it’s an issue that will require some sort of sea change across the league.
While all of that does not say much for the health of the sport as a whole, the short-term outlook as far as the Red Sox are concerned is that a whole bunch of easy wins lie on the horizon.