About That Whole "Real Competition" Thing - The Red Sox Found It And It Hasn't Been A Fun Time

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays

Okay, give it to me. I deserve it. I am an asshole normally, but I am a mega asshole when the Red Sox are playing well. And after having to sit around all winter waiting for the Red Sox to do something to improve their team, finally signing JD Martinez in late February when the Yankees had traded for Giancarlo Stanton in early December, and having to hear about how the Yankees were now some super team from hell — yeah, I enjoyed the Red Sox hot start. Maybe a little too much at times. Milked every last drop out of that titty. Can you blame me?

I read Hubbs’ blog the other day about how the Yankees’ season had finally started because they had strung together a couple of wins. Well, now the Red Sox season has officially started now that they’ve finally been humbled a bit and had a taste of humility. Not saying the players needed that, but I sure as shit did. When your team starts out 17-2, it does some things to you. When they start pulling out the record books to see when the last time a team had started a season this hot, it adds a little pep in your step.

Well, I’m gonna walk in that Barstool office today like Jimmy from South Park, because the Red Sox, although still the best team in baseball, are human. They got no-hit on Saturday, stifled again on Sunday, and despite a comeback in the ninth inning last night, were walked off in Toronto. Three straight L’s for the team that looked like they simply could not lose. Prior to this three-game skid, the Red Sox had lost on Opening Day after holding a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning, and their second loss came when David Price exited the game after one inning against New York, even though the Red Sox still put seven runs on the board.

They still have the best record in baseball, the Yankees are still in third place, and the next closest team, these Blue Jays, are still three games behind them. But now the real baseball season begins. We weren’t going to live in that fantasy world forever where the Red Sox steamrolled every single team en route to a 160-2 season, but DAMN that was fun while it lasted.

As far as legitimate concerns go, I don’t really have any. I haven’t listened to sports talk radio since I came out to New York, but I’m sure they’ll fabricate a bunch. I had no problem with Alex Cora sticking with Price in the eighth inning on Sunday. He was under 100 pitches and had been cruising since giving up a run in the first inning. The Red Sox weren’t going to average nine runs a game over the course of a 162-game schedule, so the offense hitting a bit of a lull was just something that was inevitably going to happen. Craig Kimbrel gave up the walk-off homer on Tuesday night, but he’s still the best closer in the league.

This is just what a baseball season is. The best teams are going to lose roughly sixty games. We’re just not used to seeing the Red Sox lose at all. And when you’re riding as high as Red Sox fans were to start the year at 17-2, a three-game losing streak suuuuucks, especially when two of those losses were getting no-hit and having a walk-off bomb hit right in your face against your best reliever. So far this year, when the Red Sox have lost, they have found some pretty interesting ways to do it.

But again, the Red Sox are only going to get better. That was a scary thought on Friday, and now it’s become a comforting thought a mere five days later. Xander Bogaerts, Boston’s hottest hitter at the time of his injury, made his first rehab start for the PawSox last night. He homered and doubled, which I believe is a good thing. To be honest, he probably could’ve just rejoined the team last night, but the thought process was that they didn’t want him testing out the ankle on the turf in Toronto, so Pawtucket was a more sensible choice.

About a week ago, Dustin Pedroia began his rehab process, which is essentially just going through a regular spring training, so that puts him about a month away from a return. There’s no real timetable for Tyler Thornburg, but he’s been pitching in extended spring training down in Fort Myers, and will be joining the Red Sox when they return home to Fenway this weekend to throw live BP. So, he can’t be too far off. Travis Shaw hit his 36th home run in his 168th game for the Brewers last night, so it’ll be nice to see Thornburg’s first appearance with Boston here in 2018 after being acquired in December of 2016.

Some final thoughts here — the sky isn’t falling. Come back from that ledge. Although we certainly weren’t acting like it, it’s a long ass season and we’ve got a long way to go, many battles to fight, and a division to win. Again. The hot start helps. It helps a lot. But that’s all it was — a hot start. Now we go.

Final score: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3 — 10 innings