If the AL East hadn’t already claimed the title of the toughest division in Major League Baseball coming into this season, they definitely do now.
The Yankees are still the Yankees, willing to spend any amount to make it into the playoffs year after year, the pesky Rays are solid no matter who they throw out there, and the Orioles are competitive again after spending a few years rebuilding.
And then there’s the Red Sox, who are, on paper, very solid and anticipated a contending season this year. That might’ve been true…except for when they faced the Blue Jays. 2021 featured the Orioles as the Blue Jays’ punching bag, but Boston decided to sub for that role this year.
This weekend’s sweep capped off a 16-3 record for the Jays against the Red Sox this year. It was the first time the Blue Jays have beaten an opponent 16 times in one season and it’s the first time the Red Sox lost to an opponent 16 times in one season.
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For perspective, if you removed all games against the Blue Jays this season for Boston, the Red Sox would be 72-68. With that record (and at that point in their hypothetical season), Boston would’ve been in the playoff hunt, for sure.
Amidst the 16-3 record was an abysmal run differential: 125-55 in favor of the Blue Jays. That is the worst run differential against an opponent in the 122-year history of the Red Sox. The Blue Jays won their last nine games against Boston this season, not losing to the Red Sox since June 29th. Two out of the three wins that the Red Sox had this year against Toronto were by only one run, with the Blue Jays leading at one point in both of those games.
The crazy thing about this is that Boston has been good against other contenders. For the year, they were 10-9 vs. Baltimore, 6-1 vs. Seattle, 5-2 vs. Cleveland, and 4-2 vs. Houston. Their roster is also outstanding on paper, as mentioned earlier: Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts represent their left side of the infield. Bogaerts is third in the AL in batting average, while Devers is inside the top-15 in the AL for batting average, home runs, and RBIs.
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Injuries had plagued them at many times this year, however, as they only got 5.2 innings of Chris Sale this year, 89 games from Kike Hernandez, and only 94 games of Trevor Story, their stamped offseason acquisition.
As if the run differential and season record weren’t bad enough, the fashion in which some of these defeats happened was not fun at all for Boston. Some examples:
  • Raimel Tapia’s inside-the-park grand slam highlighted a 28-5 drubbing of the Red Sox on July 22nd. It set a Blue Jays franchise record for runs scored in a single game, as well as a record for runs allowed by the Red Sox in a single game. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had a six-hit game, tying a franchise record. This game more than likely turned the Red Sox into sellers at the deadline.
  • Back in April, Kevin Gausman started twice against the Red Sox in one week. Gausman pitched 14 innings between the two starts, only allowing 11 hits, one run, zero walks, and striking out 17. With these outings, Gausman put in a bid for the Red Sox to owe him a Father’s Day gift.
  • The Blue Jays have walked off the Red Sox twice this season (Tapia on April 26th and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on June 28th)
  • This past weekend, the Red Sox didn’t score their first runs of the series until the finale on Sunday. Toronto outscored Boston 25-3 for the series, and outhit them 43-16. Yusei Kikuchi also recorded his first career save on Friday night against them, throwing three scoreless innings. That’s the cherry on top.
The Red Sox are expected to have a big offseason, as they will most likely be in the mix to win the Aaron Judge sweepstakes. Xander Bogaerts could opt out of his contract as well, forcing the hand of the Red Sox’s pockets. We’ll enjoy watching the Blue Jays in the playoffs, but their fine work against the Red Sox this year played a big part in getting there.
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