2018 Boston Red Sox
2018 Boston Red Sox / Franchise: Boston Red Sox / BR Team Page
Managed by Alex Cora
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2018 Boston Red Sox got off to the best start in team history when, after losing to the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day, March 29th, they reeled off 9 straight wins. The Red Sox were coming off two consecutive division titles, but in the off-season, all of the media attention had been focused on their traditional rivals, the New York Yankees, who had made a number of high-profile moves and named a new manager as well. But the Red Sox also had a new manager in former player Alex Cora, and had made one very significant addition by signing much sought-after free agent OF J.D. Martinez after protracted negotiations that lasted into spring training. The team's best player in the early going was SS Xander Bogaerts, who was hitting .368 and slugging .711 after 9 games but had to go on the disabled list on April 8th with a cracked bone in his ankle.
On April 11th, during the first series of the season against the Yankees, the Red Sox were involved in a major brawl triggered when reliever Joe Kelly hit the Yankees' Tyler Austin with a 96 mph fastball in the 7th, apparently in retaliation for a hard slide by Austin earlier in the game. Both benches cleared, and after order was restored, Kelly and Austin were ejected, and the next were handed suspensions of six and five games respectively, in a ddition to fines to various other minor protagonists in the melee. They lost that game, but otherwise continued to win, improving to 11-2 on April 13th. Only the 1918 edition of the team, famous for winning the franchise's last World Series before the 21st century, had had a start that good. They then won their next two games as well, completing a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, to improve to 13-2 on April 15th. When they won their next three games as well to reach a record of 16-2, they became the first team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, who had begun the season 17-1, to win 16 of their first 18 games. They improved to 17-2 with another win, then on April 21st were ambushed by Sean Manaea of the Oakland Athletics, who defeated them by pitching a no-hitter, 3-0. It was the first time the Red Sox had been no-hit since Chris Bosio had turned the trick in 1993.
The Red Sox were one of the teams hitting the fewest homers in the majors in 2017 with 168 and did not hit a single grand slam all season. That changed in April, as they tied a record that had been set by the 1996 Montreal Expos with 6 grand slams in the month, the last coming courtesy of Bogaerts on April 30th in a 10-6 win over the Kansas City Royals. It was his second slam and third homer of the year and came in his third game back from his early-season injury. The Sox finished the month with the best record in the majors, at 21-7. On May 8-10, the Red Sox traveled to New Yankee Stadium with first place on the line, as the Yankees had been on a tremendous hot streak - in fact comparable to the Sox's start - that had seen them win 15 of their last 16 games and move to within one game of the Sox. The Yankees won the first two closely-fought games to briefly take over first place, but the Sox came back in the final contest to win, 5 - 4, thanks to five scoreless innings from starter Eduardo Rodriguez and an 8th-inning homer by J.D. Martinez off Dellin Betances after the Yankees had managed to tie the game with four runs off relievers Heath Hembree and Kelly in the 7th. The two team thus parted in a tie for first, with the promise of an exciting race for the division title lying ahead.
The Sox started July red hot as a win over the Toronto Blue Jays on July 12th was their 10th straight after their loss to the Yankees on July 1st. They had managed to increase their division lead to 3 1/2 games and set a team record with their 66th win before the All-Star break. In the 6-4 win, Mookie Betts padded his resumé with 5 RBIs, four coming on a grand slam off fellow All-Star J.A. Happ in the 4th. That homer over the Green Monster came on the 13th pitch of an epic at-bat, and was followed by another RBI in the 7th as the crowd loudly chanted "MVP! MVP!" in his honor. They went into the All-Star break with a record of 68-30, which would translate to 112 wins over a full season, and they had a 4 1/2 games lead on the Yankees.
Awards and Honors
- Scot Boeck: "5 astonishing facts from the Red Sox's historic 16-2 start", USA Today Sports, April 20, 2018. 
- Ian Browne: "Red Sox set to thrive with fresh faces, outlook", mlb.com, March 20, 2018. 
- Mike Lupica: "Red Sox the ultimate win-now team: Loaded roster will be even more expensive to keep together in future", mlb.com, March 10, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Yankees and Red Sox, both bound for 100 wins, gear up for epic pennant race: 'Bring it on'", USA Today Sports, July 19, 2018. 
- Doug Padilla: "Sox (16-2) off to MLB's best start since 1987", mlb.com, April 20, 2018.