AL Wild Card Chase: And Down the Stretch They Come…

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AL Wild Card Chase: And Down the Stretch They Come…
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

With 23 games remaining in the regular season, it appears it is safe to say the Red Sox will not be the AL East Champions in 2009—that title will almost certainly belong to the NY Yankees. Hopefully, it is the only title the Evil Empire will lay claim to in 2009.

So, the next goal for the Olde Towne Team is making the playoffs.

In spite of a deluge of injuries to its pitching staff, the Red Sox lead the Texas Rangers by two games with a little more than three weeks left in the ‘09 campaign. Let’s take a look at how the schedule for each of the two teams shapes up for the remainder of the season:

 

Boston Red Sox

23 games…13 home, 10 away

The Red Sox are 47-21 (.691) at home, 34-37 (.479) on the road. Applying those numbers, we should expect that they will go 14-9 in the last three weeks to end the season with a final record of 95-67.

At home, they will play three games each against Tampa, the LA Angels and the Toronto Blue Jays…they will also play four games against the Cleveland Indians on the last weekend of the season. At home this season, the Red Sox are 3-3 against TB, 6-0 against Toronto and 1-1 against Cleveland. They have not played Los Angeles at home yet (they were 2-4 in LA).

Based on those records, and based on the fact the Rays are currently riding an eight-game losing streak, you should expect the Sox will go 9-4 in their remaining home games.

Next weekend (9/18) they will start a ten-game road trip in Baltimore (three games), followed by visits to Kansas City (four games) and New York (three games against the Yankees). They are 5-1 in Baltimore and 2-4 in the Bronx. They have not played in KC this season (they were 3-1 against the Royals at Fenway Park).

Again, based on those records, it seems a good bet they’ll finish the road trip at either 6-4 or 5-5...since they are currently under .500 on the road, I'll project they go 5-5 on the trip.

Based upon current rotations and the remaining schedule, the Red Sox should face sixteen right-hand starters and seven southpaws in the last three weeks. In 91 games they are 17-games-over-.500 vs right-handers…in 48 games they are six-games-over-.500 against lefties.

While in the past the Sox have seemingly fared better against righties, this year the offensive splits are nearly identical between righties and lefties:

vs RHP: .267 BA, .348 OBP, .455 Slug Pct, .803 OPS
vs LHP: .268 BA, .352 OBP, .453 Slug Pct, .805 OPS

Thus it would appear they are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by the projected opponent’s starters...so I'll stick with projections of 14-9 and 95-67.

 

Texas Rangers

23 games…12 home, 11 road

The Rangers are 44-25 (.638) at home, 35-35 (.500) on the road. Applying those numbers, we should expect that they will go 14-9 in the last three weeks to end the season with a final record of 93-69. If the Red Sox go 14-9 as projected, the Rangers will need to go 16-7 to force a one-game playoff for the Wild Card.

At home, they will play three games each against Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay. At home this season, the Rangers are 6-1 against Seattle, 4-2 against Oakland, 5-1 against Los Angeles, and 3-0 against Tampa.

Based on those records, you should expect Texas will go either 10-2 or 9-3 in its remaining home games…I’ll project it’s likely they go 10-2.

On the road, they will play four games each at Oakland and Los Angeles, and three games at Seattle to end the season. They are 2-4 in Oakland, 4-2 in Los Angeles and 3-3 in Seattle. Based on those records, you should expect Texas will go either 6-5 or 5-6 in its remaining home games. 

Based on the fact that Los Angeles will likely be in a position to eliminate them from the AL West race when they visit LA, I am going to project the Rangers will go 5-6 on the road through the last three weeks.

Based upon current rotations and the remaining schedule, the Rangers should face eighteen righties and five southpaws in the last three weeks. In 87 games they are 13-games-over-.500 vs right-handers…in 52 games they are six-games-over-.500 against lefties.

Based on the records, it seems safe to deduce the Rangers will go 15-8—leaving them one game shy of the post-season.

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