Red Sox

Nine straight between Astros, Red Sox? Indians could make it happen


Nine straight between Astros, Red Sox? Indians could make it happen

BOSTON — Let's get ahead of ourselves: a month from Thursday, Fenway Park could be the tipping point for something strange.

When the schedule came out, the potential for weirdness was always there. But as September arrives, the possibility for a bizarre end of the season in the American League is growing.

The Astros (80-53) visit Boston (76-57) for a four-game series to end the regular season, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Houston has led the pace in the AL for a long time. The separation, however, has dwindled. The Indians (76-56) have been charging, with seven straight wins, and may be the most complete team around. 

So let’s say the Indians do wind up with the best record in the AL. The other presumed division winners, the Astros and Sox, would play each other for at least seven straight games, and as many as nine: four to end the regular season, and then up to five more in the Division Series.

Sox manager John Farrell played the old day-at-a-time card Thursday when talking about the importance of the Yankees series that was about to get underway.

"The overriding feeling in our clubhouse and the approach of our players, they don't get past today," Farrell said.

That's nice. But as teams advance scout one another this month, there will be people charged with thinking about this very topic: would the teams act any differently in those regular season games? It's all hypotheticals, for now. But the standings are a road map.

Sometimes starting pitchers are held out of games against division-rivals in spring training. There could be too much on the line — seeding, if not a division title for the Sox — to skip someone in that final four-game series.

At the very least, Sox-Astros is the most compelling regular-season pair left on the schedule for Boston after this weekend.

Four games against the Yankees concludes a spin through a meat-grinder patch of the schedule. The Sox faced the Indians twice, the Yankees twice and had some Orioles mixed in. 

Up next, the Sox have the Blue Jays, the Rays, the A’s and then the Blue Jays again. None of those teams were above .500 entering Thursday. The Orioles have been streaking and also just swept the Sox, so their meeting at Camden Yards Sept. 18-20 could have significance.


Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

File photo

Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fort Myers on Sunday after his 4-month-old daughter underwent successful heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Red Sox are confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.

“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” manager Alex Cora replied when asked if Kimbrel had time to get ready for the March 29 opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg. “With him it’s a different schedule, anyway. He’ll be ready.”

Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, was born with a heart defect. He left the team Feb. 28 to be with her and his family in Boston, but pitching coach Dana Levangie said Kimbrel was on a pitching program during that time.

“The most important thing is that the family is okay with [Kimbrel returning to the Sox],” Cora said. “If they’re okay with it, we’re okay with it.”

The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

0:21 - With less than two week before the beginning of the 2018 season, the Red Sox don’t have all of the answers for their rotation. Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich project their Opening Day rotation and discuss the lack of depth in it.

4:39 - Will Boston’s version of the ‘Killer B’s’ return in full force this season? Lou and Evan analyze the performances of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.

10:07 - Buy or sell? John Farrell will find another managerial position this season; J.D. Martinez will have a better season than Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton; Dave Dombrowski has put the best possible team out there for 2018.