Red Sox

2020 Red Sox schedule: Dates, opponents for shortened season revealed

2020 Red Sox schedule: Dates, opponents for shortened season revealed

The Major League Baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint -- except for 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the normal 162-game schedule being trimmed down to a 60-game format where each matchup will take on greater importance.

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The Boston Red Sox will open up their new season with a three-game series versus the Baltimore Orioles beginning July 24 at Fenway Park. 

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker announced last week that local pro teams could begin hosting games without fans later this month. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy told reporters in late June that he's "hopeful" of having fans at Fenway Park at some point during the 2020 season, but he's not sure if it will happen.

In an effort to combat COVID-19, each team's schedule has been built to minimize travel as much as possible. The Red Sox, for example, will only play American League East and National League East teams. Boston has 10 games against each of its four divisional rivals, and the remaining 20 games are with NL East opponents.

The Red Sox will take on the rival New York Yankees for the first time beginning July 31 with a three-game series at Yankee Stadium. Seven of their 10 games versus the Yankees will be played in New York. The Sox also will play the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals at Fenway Park in a three-game series from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30.

Boston's final series of the regular season will be played against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park from Sept. 25 to Sept. 27.

Watch Athletics' Ramon Laureano charge Astros dugout, start a brawl

Watch Athletics' Ramon Laureano charge Astros dugout, start a brawl

The Houston Astros were involved in another benches-clearing scene Sunday afternoon, this time with the Oakland Athletics.

The action started when Athletics outfielder Ramón Laureano was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. Laureano was understandably upset after being hit. However, Laureano took his frustration too far when he started exchanging words with Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron and eventually charged Houston's dugout. 

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Check out the crazy sequence in the video below: 

Laureano shouldn't be charging the dugout, but Cintron deserves a lot of the blame for what transpired. Coaches shouldn't be getting into heated exchanges with opposing players. 

Houston is not a well-liked team right now, and opponents have not been shy about voicing their opinions of the Astros and their players ever since Major League Baseball handed down unprecedented punishment to Houston in January for its sign-stealing operation that began in 2017.

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly, who's in his second season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was suspended eight games after almost hitting two Astros players in a July 28 game. The suspension sparked a passionate reaction from fans and players on social media, with most people quickly coming to Kelly's defense.

The Astros didn't receive any suspensions for what happened in that game against Kelly and the Dodgers. Houston probably won't be as fortunate this time -- Cintron definitely deserves a suspension for his actions.

Without Mitch Moreland, Red Sox season might already be in toliet

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Without Mitch Moreland, Red Sox season might already be in toliet

Mitch Moreland is a survivor.

He joined the Red Sox in 2017 after seven years in Texas to help fill the void left by the retirement of David Ortiz. The following winter, when baseball players muttered about collusion and talents like J.D. Martinez remained unsigned into spring training, Moreland read the market perfectly by signing a two-year $13 million extension to guarantee he wouldn't be left in the cold.

He made his first All-Star team in 2018 and blasted the pivotal homer of the postseason, a pinch-hit three-run blast that led the Red Sox to a Game 3 victory over the Dodgers. He returned last year for what looked like his Red Sox swan song, bursting out of the gate before injuries limited him to 91 games.

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It turns out he wasn't going anywhere. He inked a one-year, $3 million deal in January with a club option for 2021, and all he has done since is keep the Red Sox afloat in the wide-open American League.

On Sunday that meant homering once in the second to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead over the Blue Jays, and again in the ninth to give them a 5-3 walkoff victory.

At 6-9, the Red Sox only trail the White Sox by two games for the eighth and final AL wild card spot. With the pitching inconsistent until this weekend and the offense in hibernation since the opener, the Red Sox have Moreland to thank for not being buried already.

"I mean, we've got a lot of great players here," Moreland said. "All of them at some point or the other have stepped up and done their part to carry the team. It hasn't just been one guy or the next. We've got a lot of great players.

"If you're seeing the ball well, obviously that's going to help the team. Everybody's going to do that, even at some point this year. Guys are going to get on a roll. I'm happy I'm able to kind of step up and help tonight, but I don't approach it that way and I don't think they do either. Once they get in that groove, we'll be fine."

How essential has Moreland been? He's hitting .323 with a team-leading six homers and 12 RBIs. Only three players have hit more homers this year -- New York's Aaron Judge (8), burgeoning San Diego superstar Fernando Tatis (8), and Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos (7).

Meanwhile, the rest of the Red Sox offense is stuck in first gear, if it can even turn over the engine at all. Andrew Benintendi is hitting .056. Rafael Devers is at .175 and J.D. Martinez .196. After a hot start, Jackie Bradley Jr. has fallen to .238.

The Red Sox need the Morelands of the world to deliver until the mainstays find their form. It's a role he has filled before -- he slammed eight homers last April when the Red Sox were otherwise scuffling -- but his production is usually curtailed by injuries.

Manager Ron Roenicke acknowledged recently that Moreland's legs had been bothering him, which partially explains why he has only started eight of the team's 15 games. The Red Sox have used him in a platoon, mostly with the right-handed Michael Chavis, to ease the wear and tear.

"Obviously I've always had to fight some nagging stuff here and there," he said. "Would I like it differently? Yes, I would love to feel great every day. At times, the legs are a little heavy and I have to grind it out. (Roenicke's) done a great job communicating with me and we're a good team.

"We're solid all the way through, so different guys can get in there and pick up the team, too, and we have to realize that it's going to take everybody to get us to where we need to be."

If the Red Sox hope to reach the playoffs, then the big guns need to start doing their part. In the meantime, Moreland will help keep their head above water.