Three teams in the American League won at least 100 games this season, the first time that’s happened in Major League Baseball history.
The Boston Red Sox were one of those teams. And they’ll need to get through the other two to reach the World Series.
Such is the unique challenge facing the 2018 Red Sox, who won a major league-best (and franchise-best) 108 games this season yet enter the AL Championship Series as betting underdogs. That status may be warranted: After dispatching the 100-win New York Yankees in the AL Division Series, Boston faces a 103-win Houston Astros club that won the World Series last season and looks just as strong — if not stronger — than that championship squad.
If you’re wondering when the last time a 100-win team had to face two other 100-win teams in the postseason, the answer is, well, never.
It’s not surprising this hasn’t happened before; 100-win teams often get the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, meaning they get to face a wild-card team that usually has a far worse record.
But it just so happened the AL East produced two clubs with 100-plus wins, with the Yankees becoming the first team since the 2001 Oakland Athletics to settle for a wild-card berth after winning 100 games.
Boston completed the first step of its historically tall task with relative ease, knocking out New York in four games. If the Red Sox can take out the defending champion Astros, an “easier” opponent awaits in the World Series: Neither the Milwaukee Brewers (96 wins) nor the Los Angeles Dodgers (92 wins) reached the century mark this season before advancing to the National League Championship Series.
While Houston presents a much greater obstacle for manager Alex Cora’s club, history is on Boston’s side: The only other time a (non-100-win) Red Sox team faced multiple 100-win opponents in the postseason was 2004.
We all remember how that October ended.