The Celtics have proven this year that no early-season slump is insurmountable, surging all the way to the NBA Finals after starting 25-25.
The Red Sox have a long way to go to emerge as World Series contenders, but at the moment they’re following a similar trajectory. The Celtics won nine of their next 10 following those first 50 games, and the Red Sox – who started 23-27 – can earn their ninth victory in the last 10 with a win over the Mariners on Saturday.
The Red Sox were 14-22 in mid-May. They’ve won 17 of 23 since and find themselves in the thick of the playoff picture. They own Major League Baseball’s best record since May 18 (17-6, .739) and are 21-9 (.700) in their last 30 games.
With a win either Saturday or Sunday, they would improve to 7-1-2 over their last 10 series after starting the season 1-7-1 in series play.
Here’s a closer look at how they’ve done it.
Their starting pitching has improved significantly.
The Red Sox posted an eye-popping ERA of 0.23 in six starts from May 31 to June 6, outscoring their opponents 29-7 during that span to surge above .500 for the first time since April.
They’re tied for the sixth-best ERA in the Majors at 3.63, the most complete games with three, and the ninth-most strikeouts at 514. Nathan Eovaldi, in particular, hasn’t allowed a run in his last two starts. Michael Wacha has a team-leading four starts with zero earned runs over 5-plus innings pitched.
Over their last 10 games, Red Sox starting pitchers posted a 1.71 ERA with a .203 opponent average. In their last nine games following a team loss, Boston’s starting pitchers are 5-1 with a 2.24 ERA.
They’re having double the fun.
The Red Sox have by far the most doubles in the Majors with 146. The next-closest team is the Braves, with 118, and only other teams have more than 100.
Rafael Devers (23), J.D. Martinez (21), Xander Bogaerts (16), and Kiké Hernández (16) are all in the top 13 as of Saturday morning.
Even while Martinez went 92 plate appearances without a home run, he still hit .372 during that span and racked up nine doubles. While they’re fully capable of hitting home runs, they’re not overly dependent on the long ball.
They’ve excelled in close games.
The Red Sox started the season 6-12 in games decided by two runs or fewer. Ever since, they’re 6-3. Each of their last four wins has been by one run.
Tanner Houck earned the save in Friday’s 4-3 victory over the Mariners, and it’s possible he’ll continue to occupy the closer role moving forward.
They’re dominating on the road and on the West Coast.
Boston is 12-4 (.750) in its last 16 road games and 7-1 so far on its season-high 10-game road trip (3-0 against the Athletics, 3-1 against the Angels, and 1-0 against the Mariners).
Per the club’s notes, the Red Sox haven’t won eight or more games on a single road trip since September 2017.
They’re one victory away from reaching eight wins on a West Coast road trip for the first time since August 1995. The Red Sox are 16-5 this year against American League West opponents, the most wins by any non-AL West team against the division.
They’ve won seven straight games vs. Seattle, their longest streak since winning 10 straight from 1991-1992.
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