Hard to argue with results. The Red Sox are an AL-best 13-7. They’re 8-1 in their last nine. They’re destroying opposing pitchers to the tune of a league-best .799 OPS. Kevin Youkilis leads the AL in batting, Manny Ramirez leads in home runs, RBI, slugging and OPS, Daisuke Matsuzaka leads in wins, and Jonathan Papelbon leads in saves.
What’s more, the Sox are winning ballgames they could easily have lost. They’re the team that never says die. Down 4-1 to the Indians in the seventh? No problem. Down 3-2 in the eighth just the game before? No big deal. Right?
Sorry to be the wet blanket, but I feel a tad uneasy about all this come-from-behind success. It reminds me too much of another seemingly invincible ballclub who was fun to watch and seemed to never say die. Until they did. That would be the 2006 Red Sox, who put up some pretty impressive Fangraphs charts themselves as they won 12 straight games in late June. Of course, we all know what happened once that streak came to an end. The Sox muddled around as a .500 team in July before falling off a cliff in August.
In retrospect, we know the 2006 team was just a little short of what was needed to really sustain a run to the playoffs. The closer a final score is the more luck played into which team won. The Red Sox are now 4-0 in one-run games, but just 4-3 in games decided by five runs or more. The 2006 Sox were 29-20 in one-run games, but just 24-25 in blowouts. Not surprisingly, they scored fewer runs than they allowed.
I’m not saying the Sox are going to have another hellish season like 2006 — easily the worst I’ve endured since 1997 — and I’d certainly rather be winning these games than losing them. But, contrary to what may be popular belief, this trend is not a good one. No team can rely on the late-game rally and survive. We need to start seeing these big innings earlier in the game if the Sox are to keep up their April success.