The Red Sox know how to jump out of the box. Since Terry Francona took over as Boston?s manager, the team has never posted a losing record in April.
2008: 16-11 (1-1 in March)
Don?t expect this year to be any different.
The MLB schedule makers have made sure the Red Sox begin the 2010 regular season in the right frame of mind.
Three games at Fenway Park against the Yankees have a way of ratcheting up the intensity in a hurry. Just as Spinal Tap?s amps go to 11, the Red Sox? focus will start at October levels.
That can be difficult to sustain. When the initial adrenaline rush of a new season passes, the letdown can be steeper than a Halloween sugar crash.
The Red Sox won?t have to worry about experiencing a hangover, though.
After facing the world champions, they hit the road for three games in Kansas City. Besides getting a taste of Arthur Bryant?s legendary barbecue, the Red Sox will play three games against a team that went 65-97 a year ago. If that?s not enough motivation for the Red Sox to lick their chops, Zack Greinke also pitches for the Royals. Major league hitters love a challenge, and the challenge doesn?t get any bigger than squaring off against the reigning American League Cy Young winner.
Then, it?s on to Minnesota to help open Target Field, the Twins? new $440 million outdoor stadium. As long as there?s not a blizzard in Minneapolis, the Red Sox should have no trouble mustering the inspiration to spoil the party. In the spirit of Groucho Marx, the only thing better than being in a parade is raining on one.
From being the bad guys, the Red Sox return home to have statues constructed in their honor and play 10 games against the Rays, Rangers and Orioles. The Red Sox do some of their best work in Boston (56-25 at home in 2009) and still love that “Dirty Water.” Some things never change.
But in Toronto — the next stop for Francona?s traveling band of merry pranksters — nothing stays the same. Aside from the Blue Jays still residing in the AL East, most of the names in their program are different. The Red Sox thank Alex Anthopoulos for shipping Roy Halladay to the National League and show their gratitude by bringing a year?s supply of brooms to keep the Rogers Centre clean.
Finally, the Red Sox race to Camden Yards, their home away from home. Although the Orioles are much-improved, Baltimore is even more hospitable than the Red Sox remember and serves as the perfect backdrop to reflect on the first month of the season.
The Red Sox play 23 games in April. They will not go 23-0, but being in first place in the AL East entering May is possible.
The key for Boston is maintaining that momentum over the course of the season. A strong start is meaningless without a strong finish.
From now until Opening Day, NESN.com will run down 25 things that need to happen for the Red Sox to win the World Series.
March 12: David Ortiz hits 30 home runs and posts 100 RBIs.