The Boston Red Sox won’t lack for incentive when they head down the stretch.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Monday examined the remainder of the Red Sox’s regular season schedule and concluded a “pot of gold” exists at the end of it in the form of series against the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. Passan believes the last week of the Red Sox schedule is “as fortunate as it gets” for a contending team looking to clinch a spot in the 2021 MLB playoffs. Here’s why.
“Perhaps the Red Sox’s fade in recent weeks will eventually unseat them from the playoff spot they’ve held almost all season,” Passan wrote. “Even if it does, the Red Sox understand that Sept. 28-Oct. 3 gives them hope. The first three days, they play at Baltimore. The three after that, they’re at Washington. And that’s the kind of schedule that can save a season.
“Granted, it’s certainly possible that if their sweep of Baltimore this past weekend doesn’t reinvigorate them, the Red Sox could wind up suffering to the point that their last-week gift doesn’t matter. There’s a long time between now and then, and baseball is the sort of game that makes playoff odds in the early months of the season look foolish.
“Still, it’s something the Red Sox can hold on to. The Orioles won’t roll over, and neither will the Nationals, and guaranteed victories aren’t a thing. But it will be there, waiting for Boston: the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”
The 69-51 Red Sox have a 2 1/2-game lead of the New York Yankees for the American League’s second wild-card spot. Although Boston is locked into a race for the final postseason spot, it also trails the Tampa Bay Rays by just three games for American League East lead.
Meanwhile, the 38-78 Orioles are down and out, and the 50-68 Nationals aren’t faring much better. With the teams likely to remain in last place in their respective divisions, they certainly will be there for the taking in early fall.
Plenty of baseball remains on the slate, and all this seemingly bodes well for the Red Sox, particularly because their pitching staff now is deeper than it has been at any other point in the season, and their offense is poised to benefit from Kyle Schwarber’s bat.