Every team in the majors wants to get off to a good start and really, honestly, games in April and May count as much as games in August and September.
Perhaps there is no team that needs a good first 50 than the Boston Red Sox. Boston has finished in last place three of the last four seasons and need to show their fan base that their combination of expensive acquisitions and potential young stars can return the Sox to the postseason, something the team has experienced only once since 2009.
Nine to Ask: There are a number of questions that need to be answered by Boston in the first 50:
- Will David Price stabilize the rest of the mediocre starting staff?
- Will Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith enable the Sox bullpen to compensate for the starters?
- Can Hanley Ramirez play first base and stay healthy?
- Will Pablo Sandoval make a weighty contribution?
- Can Rusney Castillo play in the majors?
- Can Jackie Bradley, Jr. provide enough offense to keep his glove in the game?
- How mean will Xander Bogaerts regression to the mean be?
- Will David Ortiz‘s retirement be a year too late?
- Will John Farrell follow Ben Cherington?
Nine to Know: Boston’s first third of the season:
- For the sixth straight season, the Sox open on the road: with three in Cleveland and three in Toronto (6 games total)
- They then open at Fenway with a 10-game homestand playing Baltimore, the Blue Jays (four games), and Rays (16 games total)
- Then it’s off to Houston for three and to Atlanta (minus the DH) for two (21 games total)
- Back to Boston for two against the Braves and then their season within a season begins with three against the Yankees (26 games total)
- Back on the road to face the White Sox and then to NY to face the Yankees and their second straight Sunday night telecast (32 games total)
- Back to Boston for three against the A’s and four against the wanna be champion Astros (39 games total)
- On the road again, this time to face the current champion Royals for three games in a very brief road trip (42 games total)
- Then it’s Fenway for the Indians and Rockies (48 games total)
- Three in Toronto and three in Baltimore ends the first third of the season (54 games total)
Nine to Know: Boston in the first 50
- The best start the Sox have ever had in the first 50 games was in 1946 when the went 40-9-1; they reached the World Series that season.
- In that 1946 season they had a run differential of +121, the best in team history
- Their worst start was in 1932 when they went 10-40.
- In that 1932 season they had a run differential of -150, the worst in team history
- When they were World Champs in 2007, they went 35-15, their second-best record. They had the same record in 1986 when they reached the Series against the Mets and in 2002, when they finished in second place despite winning 93 games.
- When they were World Champs in 2013, they went 30-20.
- In 1950, when they went 30-20, they scored 377 runs in those games.
- In 1925, when they went 18-32, they allowed 326 runs in those games.
- In 2012, they started 26-24 and finished last. In 2013, they started 30-20 and won the World Series. In 2014, they started 21-29 and finished last. In 2015, they started 22-28 and finished last.
One last point why the first 50 matter for the Sox
Boston plays only eight games at Fenway in September, the fewest home games of any team.