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  • August 3rd, 2015

    Guest Post: Can the Red Sox Repeat the 88′ Season?

    Posted by Christine E. at 8:00 pm in Baseball,Guest Post,Red Sox No Comments

    By Joe Messineo

    Editors Note:  from time to time we here at Boston Red Thoughts like to hear from other writers.  Thanks to Joe for sending this along.

    Although the Red Sox have won 3 of their last 4 games, their 5 – 12 record since the All Star break makes it a bit challenging to believe October baseball can happen. However, looking back at the run the 88′ Red Sox went on in the second half of the season has rejuvenated my hope that it may not be over yet. In 1988, the Sox were down 9 games at the All-Star break and went on to win the AL East. Currently, the 2015 Red Sox are only 8 games out of the Wild Card race with a full two months of baseball ahead of us.

    The 1988 season was just two years after the devastating World Series loss to the NY Mets, but the Sox had a team that was poised for another title run, with an almost identical lineup to the ’86 squad. Annual batting average king Wade Boggs led the team, while veterans Jim Rice and Dwight Evans put up solid numbers in their mid-30s. But the most important piece was starting pitcher Roger Clemens, who had just won the Cy Young Award two years in a row. The fireballing right-hander was backed by crafty lefty Bruce Hurst.

    Despite the familiar faces heading into ’88, including manager John McNamara, there were also some new faces that were expected to make an impact. Center fielder Ellis Burks, left fielder Mike Greenwell, shortstop Jody Reed and first baseman Todd Benzinger were all age 25 or younger, but were already making their mark.

    Unfortunately, what appeared to be a solid infrastructure at the season’s start soon fell apart. The Red Sox stumbled to a 43-42 first half, spelling the end for McNamara and the start of new skipper Joe Morgan’s tenure as manager.

    It was that transition that sparked the Red Sox to recover from a nine-game hole at the All-Star break. Not to be confused with the Hall of Fame second baseman of Big Red Machine fame, this Joe Morgan certainly made a name for himself within the confines of Fenway Park as his new players answered the bell.

    Boston won 12 in a row after the break and ran off 25 straight wins at home – and the first-place Detroit Tigers were helpless in this AL East comeback. Over a matter of two months, the Red Sox went from languishing in fourth place to surging past the Tigers and into their division’s lead.

    That lead grew as high as six games on September 18 after Bruce Hurst picked up his 18th victory. But after losing six of nine games (including five to the Toronto Blue Jays), a host of teams remained in contention.

    With the final weekend of the regular season ahead, Boston held a three-game edge over the Milwaukee Brewers, a 3.5-game advantage over the Yankees, and a four-game spread over Detroit.

    Mike Boddicker’s win against Cleveland on September 29 eliminated the Tigers and put the Red Sox’s magic number at one. Roger Clemens had all intentions of clinching the Eastern Division crown on his terms. But instead of win No. 19, he fell to the Indians. Fortunately, Boston’s closest rivals couldn’t take advantage. New York fell in Detroit while Milwaukee lost to Oakland. The AL East crown went to the Red Sox, ultimately thanks to the efforts of many. Greenwell had a breakout season, leading the club in home runs (22) and runs batted in (119). Boggs won his fourth batting title in five years thanks to a .368 average. On the mound, Clemens and Hurst earned a combined 36 wins. “Rocket” Roger had a down year by his standards, but with a 2.93 earned run average, 14 complete games, and eight shutouts, it was a year most starters would envy.

    If the Red Sox can string together a winning streak like the 1988 team, it will certainly make for an exciting September. However, if anything is going to happen, it needs to happen now, starting with this week’s matchup against the Yankees. If they can take 2 of 3 from New York and do the same against Detroit, it could give the team the needed spark to make a run for the playoffs.

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