The five game win streak is no more. The Boston Red Sox are leaving Tampa on a three game losing skid and have now dropped 9 straight at Tropicana Field. While a September postseason run wasn’t realistic, it also wasn’t completely out of the question after the nice little win streak to end August and open September. But being 10 games back with 24 to play, Boston may look at this series with Tampa as the moment when they knew they couldn’t catch up.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST STRUGGLES
Boston has shown the ability to go on some runs this year. Many times it looked like they were finally getting their season turned around. Every time an AL East opponent stopped them in their tracks. In April, after winning four of six from AL Central opponents, the Red Sox dropped 9 of the next 13 against the AL East. In May, Boston went on a run winning 11 of 15 from the Braves, Rangers, Astros, Mariners and White Sox. They would then drop 3 of 5 to the Baltimore Orioles over Memorial Day weekend, including splitting a double header where my brother and I attended both games. June was their best month. Boston went 20-6 with a 7 game win streak. But, the month ended with Boston dropping two of three to Toronto.
July was the complete opposite of June. Boston finished the month 7-19. Thirteen of those losses were to AL East opponents, including a 25-8 beat down by Toronto in the first game after the All Star break. That brings us to August. Boston had a losing record in the month at 12-16. But they went 6-7 against the AL East. While that is still disappointing, it’s closer than they have been in other months. As we mentioned, they reeled off 5 in a row at the end of August and beginning of September, but those wins came against the Twins and Rangers. As soon as they ran into Tampa, they were swept. The AL East continues to be their downfall.
Boston currently sits in last place in the division, 15 games below .500. It would take a remarkable tear for them to make the playoffs. With 24 games to play, 19 of them come against division opponents. They have a 5 game stretch against the Royals and Reds coming up. Both teams are currently 26 games below .500. That may be the Red Sox next spurt, but it will be too little too late unless Boston can start taking care of business in the division.
Before the season, Boston was picked to finish the season with a record of 88-74. Fangraphs actually predicted a four way tie between Boston, New York, Tampa and Toronto with Baltimore in a distant last. It’s clear now that won’t be the case. Boston is no stranger to September runs, but they are usually on the wrong end of them. The Yankees came back against the Red Sox in 1978. Then there was September 2011. Tampa overcame the largest September deficit ever to send Boston packing. Can Boston turn their own September surprise? With the extra Wild Card spot, the Red Sox eliminated yet. But they may as well be.
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