By almost all accounts, the Red Sox are having a great year. After tonight's win in Oakland, the team has a 60-38 record -- their best since 1979.
But going into the weekend series against the Mariners -- in which the Sox dropped two out of three -- the Red Sox had a surprisingly lackluster record against quality competition. And the M's wouldn't necessarily be considered quality competition -- they entered the weekend at 44-51, or seven games below .500. Perhaps that should be a matter of concern.
Consider the following:
Against teams over .500, the Sox they were just 18-24 -- a .429 winning percentage. How can that be be, when they have the second best record in baseball?
It's simple; they've beaten up on weak teams. Thank goodness for inter-league play.
Against the National League and the woeful Orioles, the Sox were 24-3, an .889 winning percentage. But against everyone else, the Sox were just 31-33, a mere .485 winning percentage. Yes, it's hard to believe, but it's true.
And the Yankees? Well they were 24-20 against .500 plus teams, a .545 winning percentage. And of course, they've done it without Sheffield and Matsui, two potent, All Star caliber bats.
The Sox have the luxury of playing the majority of their remaining games (36 of 64) at Fenway, where they are 32-13, or .711 -- the second best home winning percentage, after Toronto. As a result, they may be able to outperform their recent history.
They'll need to, because a losing record against winning teams will simply result in another first round bounce. If they outlast the Yankees and win the division, the Sox could get home field advantage if they draw the AL West winner -- assuming they maintain a better record. The winner of the AL Central -- the Tigers or White Sox -- will likely end up with the best record in baseball (and homefield advantage) and the runner up appears poised to win the Wild Card. The division rivals will square off 10 more times this season, which will help determine the winer. So far this year, the division leading Tigers are just 3-6 against the White Sox.
The Red Sox will also play 37 of their remaining 64 games against teams presently over .500. According to current trends, that does not bode well.
The big question, as we enter the season's final two months, is which trend will prevail for the Red Sox? Their winning ways at Fenway, or their losing record against the winning teams they'll largely have to face down the stretch?
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.