But before you go thinking that a visit to Kansas City only means some barbecue and a beat down of the hapless Royals, take note of some recent trends.
As they embark on their first road trip of 2010, the Red Sox have fresh in their memories some serious road woes. They went 39-42 away from home in 2009 and have had a losing mark on the road in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1996-97. Included in last year’s struggles was a 4-13 stretch away from home and some serious offensively challenged evenings.
Among Boston regulars, only Victor Martinez had a better batting average on the road than at home. Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek averaged 48 points less in enemy territory. The club’s .414 slugging percentage in foreign lands was its lowest since 1996.
Minutes after Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees at Fenway Park, thoughts had already turned to the six-game trip, which includes three games against the Royals and then a trip to Minnesota to open Target Field with the Twins.
“We’ll take momentum anywhere,” said manager Terry Francona. “It’d be good [to have a better start on the road]. I know things didn’t add up on the road last year.”
As they did this week, the 2009 Red Sox opened their season by losing two of three at Fenway. Like 2010, they then faced six straight on the road. And as is the case on Friday night in K.C., Tim Wakefield was on the mound to start the excursion.
Wakefield took the loss and the club’s first journey of 2009 began with four losses in five games, setting the tone for a bumpy road.
Boston teams are often built to thrive in Fenway. They bring in bats that can toy with the Green Monster and pitchers who are unfazed by it. The confines are tight and the atmosphere singular in major league baseball, sometimes requiring a certain kind of player to succeed.
The playing field can get leveled in other parks, even at the Royals’ Kauffman Stadium, where a 75-win season is a success; the Sox are 7-9 in Kansas City over the last five years.
One glimmer of hope for the upcoming trip involves the team’s trip to Target Field in Minnesota. The old Metrodome had become a house of horrors in recent years; since 2001, Boston was 10-19 there.
During his final visit to the dome last May, Francona was quoted as saying that the Twins’ former home “stinks” and indicated he was looking forward to leaving behind the “office building” with the roof that camouflaged fly balls.
He said, "I hope so," when asked if the open-air Target Field will take away the Twins’ longtime home-field advantage. The way some of the road trips went last year, the Sox could use the help.
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