Is a record-breaking season off the table for the Red Sox?

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 21: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox runs onto the field during a game against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on August 21, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 21: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox runs onto the field during a game against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on August 21, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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Do the Boston Red Sox still have a chance to break Major League Baseball’s all-time wins record?

As fans, we try not to get ahead of ourselves.

Whether we claim to believe in jinxes or not, it’s always in the back of our heads. And when a team that we root for has a chance to do something monumental and historic, we try not to give it too much thought. Even if you don’t believe in jinxes, at the very least, you don’t want to get your hopes up just to have them obliterated in heart-wrenching fashion.

I, myself, don’t believe in jinxes. It’s kind of a wacky theory, if you really think about it. But as my favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, have unleashed this remarkable 2018 season and have given themselves an outside shot at shattering Major League Baseball’s regular season wins record, I will admit that I’ve forced myself to keep those thoughts repressed in the back of my mind. Sometimes, you just can’t help it.

This past week, however, Boston’s hopes of reaching a record-breaking 117 wins took a colossal blow, and now it feels somewhat safe to have an open discussion about this. At the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians, the Red Sox suffered a three-game losing streak … which doesn’t sound like much when you are 50-plus games over .500, but when you’re pushing for history, every single defeat is critical.

Boston lost one game to the Rays, then followed up with back-to-back losses at home to the Indians. Before those three games, the Sox had won 17 of their last 20, and it looked like they just might have a shot at making history – if they could keep on rolling. But that first loss against Tampa Bay started a stretch in which the Red Sox have now lost four of their last six. If the goal is to break the wins record, that’s a catastrophic few games, even though nothing can really be considered catastrophic when people are talking about you breaking the wins record.

As the Red Sox head into Saturday’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field, here’s where they stand: They are exactly 50 games over .500 at 90-40. Leading the second-place New York Yankees by 8.5 games with just a month left of the regular season, they appear to have a very, very, very good chance of winning the AL East again, barring a 2011-esque collapse of apocalyptic proportions (I had to add that part in there for jinxing purposes … you know, even though I don’t believe in jinxes).

With such a large gap separating them from every other team in baseball, and with the month of September still separating them from postseason play, the only thing the Red Sox have to strive for right now is the all-time wins record. They have 32 games left, and to break the record, they would have to win 27 of those. So, from this point until the regular season finale on Sept. 30, Boston can only afford to lose five more games.

Going 27-5 throughout the final week of August and the entire month of September? That goal is about as lofty as they come. In order for that to happen, the Red Sox bats would have to catch fire, and stay on fire, for five straight weeks. The ace of the rotation, Chris Sale, is currently on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation, and with such a large lead in the division, the Red Sox aren’t going to rush him back as to preserve his arm for the playoffs. That means the remaining starters – David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez – would have to elevate themselves to Sale-like proportions for the next five weeks.

And lastly, the bullpen – which doesn’t contain a single relief pitcher that fans actually trust on the mound in a big moment of a big game – would have to suddenly become lights out, and that’s something that it hasn’t been all season long.

So, is it impossible for the Red Sox to win 117 games now that they’ve completely fallen off pace? It’s not impossible, because this team has won so many crazy games this year that fans have now reached the point where they just expect them to come through when it seems hopeless. We’ve reached the point where fans just expect the Red Sox to come back from a 5-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game, and then win the game in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off grand slam by Mookie Betts. That’s just the kind of season it’s been.

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If there was ever a team in Major League Baseball that was capable of going 27-5 over the last five weeks to break the all-time wins record, it’s the 2018 Boston Red Sox. But just because it’s not impossible doesn’t mean that it’s probable.

I’m not holding my breath.