Can anyone stop the Red Sox?
Boston kept rolling Thursday night, beating the Angels by an 8-2 score to win their seventh game in a row and complete a three-game sweep over the team with the next-best record in the American League. The Red Sox are now 16-2, extending the best start in franchise history.
As the team’s incredible run continues, MLB.com takes a look at 10 of the most impressive facts and figures from this Red Sox season.
1. The 2018 Red Sox are just the fifth team in the live-ball era, which began in 1920, to win at least 16 of their first 18 games. And they’re the first team in over 30 years to do so. The other four teams:
• 1987 Brewers: 17-1
• 1984 Tigers: 16-2
• 1981 A’s: 17-1
• 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers: 16-2
Two of those four teams — the 1984 Tigers (who would win an incredible 35 of their first 40 games that year) and the 1955 Dodgers — went on to win the World Series.
2. Even if you expand the time period to baseball’s entire modern era — that is, since 1900 — this Red Sox team is just the seventh to start its season 16-2 or better. The two other entries to the list: the 1918 New York Giants (17-1) and the 1911 Tigers (16-2). Including Boston, that means five American League teams have accomplished the feat, compared to two National League teams.
3. It’s hard to believe this team lost on Opening Day. Since then, the Red Sox have won 16 of 17 games. The last time Boston went 16-1 in any 17-game stretch? That would be 2004, when the Sox went 16-1 from Aug. 16 to Sept. 3. You might remember that history-making Red Sox team, which shattered the Curse of the Bambino and won the franchise’s first World Series since 1918.
4. Boston has already outscored its opponents by 66 runs this season, by far the best run differential in baseball. The Red Sox have scored 116 runs — the most in MLB, with the Blue Jays next at 106 — and they have allowed just 50, the third-fewest of any team. Toronto is the next-closest team to Boston by run differential, and the Jays are nearly 30 behind, at plus-37.
5. The Red Sox plus-66 run differential is actually historically good. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s tied for the fourth-highest run differential through a team’s first 18 games in the entire modern era (since 1900). It’s the best run differential by any team through 18 games since the 1993 Tigers.
Best run differential through 18 team games
Modern era (since 1900)
1. 1905 New York Giants: +80
2. 1918 New York Giants: +72
3. 1993 Tigers: +67
4. 2018 Red Sox: +66
4. 1902 Pirates: +66
6. Alex Cora is having unprecedented success for a rookie manager. Per Elias, in the modern era (since 1900), the only other skipper to win at least 16 of his first 18 games as an MLB manager was Joe Morgan — also for the Red Sox, in 1988. (Morgan won 17 of his first 18 games.)
But Morgan was a midseason replacement for John McNamara, and those wins came in July. Cora is the first manager since 1900 to start a season with a new club by winning at least 16 of the first 18 games.
7. The Red Sox offense is clicking on all cylinders. As a team, Boston leads the Major Leagues in batting average (.292), on-base percentage (.362), slugging percentage (.496) and OPS (.859). The Sox have also struck out in just 16.3 percent of plate appearances, the lowest rate of any team.
In the just-completed sweep of the Angels, the Red Sox mashed 11 home runs, with the highlight a six-homer game in the series opener, including three by Mookie Betts. Those 11 home runs are the most the Sox have hit in a three-game series since 1977, when they hit a team-record 16 against the Yankees from June 17-19.
8. The pitching has been almost as good as the hitting. Red Sox starting pitchers are now 12-1 with a 1.98 ERA, the lowest by any rotation in the Major Leagues. Their relievers, meanwhile, have not allowed a run in their last 14 innings pitched, and just one run in their last 20 innings. Hitters are just 3-for-their-last-48 against the Boston bullpen.
9. Betts is providing the Red Sox a huge spark at the top of the order. He leads the Major Leagues with a .391 batting average, a 1.277 OPS and 22 runs scored — the most runs by a Red Sox player in the team’s first 18 games since at least 1908. (Johnny Pesky had 21 runs scored through 18 games in 1950, and Ted Williams had 21 in 1942.) In the Angels series, Betts twice led off the game with a home run, extending his own franchise record for most leadoff home runs to 13.
And, of course, there was his three-home-run game, which was the third of his career. The 25-year-old Betts is just the third player in Major League history with three three-homer games before turning 26. The others: Boog Powell and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner.
10. The previous Red Sox franchise record for most wins in the team’s first 18 games was 15, established by the 1946 Boston club. The 1946 Red Sox moved to 15-3 by beating none other than Hall of Famer Bob Feller — and they kept on winning after that. Actually, their 18th game came in the middle of a 15-game winning streak that took them from 7-3 to 21-3. In other words, the 2018 Sox will actually have to keep winning if they want to match their predecessors’ pace.
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