One of the things I love about baseball is the tie it has to history — its "modern era," the time in which most of the rules we have today were in place and the leagues and teams took shape in ways that are recognizable to current fans is now 110 years old. That's an incredible amount of history for almost every imaginable feat to have occurred, usually multiple times. Yet every year teams and ballplayers do something that either has never been done before or hasn't been done in years.
And the best part is there are sites like Baseball-reference that allow us to find out if what we're seeing is special or not.
So the Boston Red Sox are on a huge roll, the best of any team so far this season. They've won nine straight, scoring at least five runs in each of them. A streak like that — nine games with five or more runs scored — isn't all that uncommon. It happens on average twice a season. But the Sox haven't just scored five runs a game; they have pulverized opponents for 83 runs in those nine games. That's a little more rare.
In fact, if you're a Red Sox fan, you might be thinking you can't remember a stretch like this in which the Sox have been so dominant offensively. And you'd be correct: No Red Sox team has ever had a nine-game run in which they've won every time and scored 83 runs. The closest came in 1950, when the Ted Williams-led squad scored 80 runs over the first nine games of an 11-game streak. So this is unprecedented for the Red Sox, though less so for the game as a whole.
This year, no team had scored more than 73 runs in a nine-game stretch until the Sox pulverized Toronto for 14 in yesterday's game. In all of 2010, no team scored more than 73 runs in nine games, and no team went 9-0 while scoring more than 60 runs. 2009? The Red Sox went 9-0 and led the league in runs scored over any nine-game period during the streak … and scored 76. Not since 2008 has any team scored more than 83 runs in nine games. The Phillies that year scored 85 but went 7-2.
So when was the last time a team went 9-0 and scored more than 80 runs in that span? It appears to be the 2004 Astros, who scored 84 runs over the first nine games of their 12-game winning streak that vaulted them from the basement to the playoffs in half a season. Before them, you have to go back to the 2000 Oakland Athletics, who scored an impressive 95 runs in nine games, including a 21-3 thrashing of Kansas City.
Another great streak in recent history fell short: the 2002 A's, who won an astounding 20 straight games, scored 82 runs during a nine-game span in the middle of that streak. (Note: I ran the search for teams scoring at least five runs a game and then, just to be sure, dropped the criteria to four per game, with the same results.)
So since the turn of the 21st century, the Red Sox are the third team to score this many runs while winning nine in a row — and the first Boston team ever to do it. And that's why we love baseball. Because every day, every week, is the opportunity to see something we might not have seen before.