For most of the first 60 games of the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season, the Boston Red Sox have been first in the American League East or at least tied for the lead.
However, the team started to falter and the Red Sox fell to second place behind the New York Yankees this past weekend after losing two of their three games against the Chicago White Sox.
On Monday, the Red Sox started a road trip of 10-games that includes the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins and were just a half game behind the Yankees.
The Red Sox defeated the Orioles on Monday 2-0 in 12 innings, but the offense only mustered 12 hits over 12 innings.
However, the pitching of starter Steven Wright and five from the bullpen was excellent as Boston recorded only the eighth shutout in extra innings since the Orioles started playing in Camden Yards.
The emergence of knuckleballer Wright could be key for the Red Sox in their battle to win the AL East against the Yankees. The Red Sox have Drew Pomeranz sitting on the disabled list and Wright could be just what Boston needs.
In two starts this season, Wright has given up no runs over 13 2/3 innings versus the Tigers and Orioles. Of course, the Red Sox know what Wright is capable of. In 2016, the knuckleballer made the All-Star team before he injured his shoulder when pinch running during a game in August.
In 2017, Wright underwent knee surgery and sat out almost the entire season. This season he was suspended for the first 15 games after he violated the domestic violence policy of MLB.
The Yankees have experienced problems of late on the mound. Jordan Montgomery has been lost to Tommy John surgery. Masahiro Tanaka was just put on the DL for both hamstrings that he injured while on the base path. Luis Cessa has an oblique strain that landed him on the DL as well. Domingo German, who took Montgomery’s place in the rotation, has an ERA of 5.32.
The bullpens of both the Red Sox and Yankees have matched one another. Boston’s pen has an ever-so slight edge in ERA at 2.98 versus 3.02 for the Yankees. The Red Sox hold a bigger edge in the save to blown saves ratio of 24 to 5 compared to 18 to 8.
Boston received more good news on Monday with Mookie Betts returning to the lineup. The season is young and the Red Sox are preparing themselves for long battle with the Yankees.