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Know Your Enemy: Boston Red Sox

Turns out a lot of people hate Fever Pitch and Ben Affleck

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Dodgers Game - World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Five
Why yes, Ben Affleck’s head does seem inhumanly large. Seems that’s a trait he shares with his Red Sox fan compadres.
Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

Coming off an uneven series against Cleveland (yay Rodón no-hitter! Boo Thursday’s sixth inning) our guys are off to Boston to play against the uneven Red Sox. All anyone could talk about last year was them losing Mookie Betts to the Dodgers, because the product on the field was so lousy.

In fact, Alex Cora screamed at the 2020 Red Sox (while he was at home, suspended for cheating) so loudly that the 2021 Red Sox feel guilty, and aren’t going to be as bad now that he’s back in the helm. Ron Roenicke kind of kept his seat warm last season by finishing last in the AL East.

2020 Red Sox: 24-36 (fifth in AL East)

The Red Sox finished 2020 with their first losing record since 2015, which seems appropriate since they were coming off a cheating scandal of their own (to a lesser degree than the Astros, but still ... cheating for wins) that led to Cora being suspended for the season. The team also finished with a .400 win percentage, its lowest since 1965 (.383) so it almost feels like they were punished more than the Astros for cheating. 2020 also saw the introduction of new GM Chaim Bloom to the franchise — his proudest 2020 moments were dumping Mookie Betts to the Dodgers and bragging about being under the luxury tax as a result (um, congratulations I guess).

The Red Sox team batting average was a respectable .265, so it wasn’t all bad for them. Ron Roenicke had to step in as interim manager for the Red Sox while Cora served his suspension (and then got his job back) and can be best remembered as managing the Brewers for a few years, with 2011 being the only time in his tenure the team finished better than third. Alex Verdugo lead the team in batting (.308) with Xander Bogaerts continued to be the pride of Aruba with 36 runs scored, 11 home runs, and eight stolen bases.

2020 was also the year that the Red Sox acquired Dylan Covey, so have fun with that, guys.

2021 Manager: Alex Cora, Take 2

Cora was suspended for the 2020 season and came back for 2021 with a bang, managing to get ejected arguing with Jordan Baker in the series against the Twins.

Cora is back with a fresh new contract through 2022, and club options for 2023 and 2024. Ten games in and he’s holding a 9-4 record, so the Red Sox are already better than where they were last season. It’s also worth noting that Cora got his 200th win on Wednesday, so bringing him back was the right move for the team, and it seems that a poor showing in 2020 was going to make the fanbase much more receptive to Cora returning. It is also worth noting that Cora has actually apologized for his role in the Red Sox sign-stealing scandal and did not go on a false indignation tour a la A.J. Hinch, so he’s definitely got a leg up on the Astros there.

2021 So Far

The Red Sox are sitting comfortably on top of the AL East with the Blue Jays back three games (with the Yankees hot on their heels). The Betts-shaped hole is nowhere near as big as it was last year. With Andrew Benintendi off to the Royals and Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Brewers there’s plenty of space for Franchy Cordero, Kike Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe to shine against the Green Monster. J.D. Martinez has been on fire with a record-breaking .378/.440/.867 slash in 11 games played, followed closely by Xander Bogaerts at .370/.431/.457. Right now the only everyday players struggling at the plate appear to be Bobby Dalbec, Renfroe, and Marwin Gonzalez.

Series Matchup: Say a Prayer for Our Bullpen

Today is Dylan Cease facing Nick Pivetta. Cease has a 3.86 ERA with nine strikeouts in two starts (throwing exactly 4 23 innings each outing). Having thrown 182 pitches between those two games is not a great start to the season, so here’s hoping Cease can get better. Pivetta, meanwhile, won his last start, making him the first member of the Red Sox since Tim Wakefield to win his first four starts. This is Pivetta’s first career start against the White Sox (having pitched relief against them in 2019).

Sunday’s opener is Dallas Keuchel vs. TBD. Keuchel is at a very painful 6.43 ERA with nine strikeouts, but put up a respectable set of innings on Monday, especially considering they didn’t tell him he was pitching until 5 p.m. (due to the Carlos Rodón late scratch). Hopefully we start to see a little more Cy Young Keuchel and less whatever 2021 has been.

Sunday’s nightcap is a TBD salad, as the White Sox have not announced a starter. That leads to fears of Reynaldo López spot-starting — but given these are seven-inning doubleheaders, the staff could get by on a bullpen game if Keuchel pitches deep into the opener.

Monday morning has Lucas Giolito facing Martin Perez. Giolito is coming off seven shutout innings against Cleveland in the pitcher’s duel with Shane Bieber (and we all know how that ended). Perez has a 4.50 ERA in the two games he’s pitched but with a 2-5 record in 11 career starts at Fenway he’s looking to seal his first win there as a member of the Red Sox.

Why Does Everyone Hate the Red Sox?

For what is a rare occurrence when I ask why fans hate our opposing team (all in fun) Red Sox fans were pissy in my mentions on Twitter so I hate them for being so sensitive.