No team has ever won more games before the all-star break than the 2018 Boston Red Sox. Their 68 wins is a new record and Boston only has to go .500 in its remaining 64 games to win 100 games, something it hasn’t done since 1946. (It should be noted this year’s all-star break came later in the season than ever before, so while Boston’s win total set a new record, its win percentage did not.)
The club may very well have to do at least that just to stay out of a single-elimination game to start the postseason. The Yankees are just 4.5 games back and get Gary Sanchez back for a stretch run that includes 40 games against teams with losing records, 20 of them coming against clubs in dead last place.
The Sox have a majority of home games and will stay completely inside the Eastern Time Zone following their three-game set in Detroit this weekend. They do, however, have 10 games left against the Yankees and another 10 against the combination of Houston and Cleveland, two division-leading opponents the Yankees are finished with.
Alex Cora has elected to start the unofficial second half with David Price, following Chris Sale‘s third consecutive all-star game start and Eduardo Rodriguez‘s badly sprained ankle in the weekend before that. The one-time Tiger is a hefty road favorite, approaching -200 against a Detroit club 16 games under .500.
Boston has hardly gone through any turbulence all season, which rarely happens to even the best teams. It started out red-hot, leveled off a bit and then finished red-hot again. I firmly believe it will come, however, and that it’s going to take a gritty effort to keep the Yankees from prying the division away in September.
More importantly, both JD Martinez and Mookie Betts played at levels that are hard to imagine being superseded in the second half. They are both tremendous players but even so, it feels like there is only one place for both of them to go: down. It isn’t a negative view of either of them; it’s just hard to believe Betts hitting .360 for another 64 games, or Martinez not just leading the league in homers and RBIs, but blowing it out. Even worse, what if either one gets hurt?
So I’m expecting Boston to struggle at some point in the second half, if not for just 10 games. Will it come right off the bat against one of the worst teams it has on its schedule from here on out? Not likely, but possible.
I simply can’t accept Price as this big of a road favorite, coming off of three July starts in which he has allowed 15 runs and has failed to get through his final inning of work. Matthew Boyd, meanwhile, has similar, if not better, numbers on the season and beat Boston in early July, pitching into the seventh inning and limiting the Sox to two runs.
With Boston winning as often as it did before the break, these games right out of the shoot pose an opportunity to fade.
Play: Detroit +1.5 (+110)