I don’t know about you, but there is almost a feeling of relief when I think about tuning in for tonight’s Red Sox game, and watching them take the field at Fenway Park again. Home sweet home.
The Sox haven’t played a game at home since May 2, which was almost two weeks ago. They ventured on a grueling road trip – their longest of the season to this point – that took them to Arlington, Texas, the Bronx, and Toronto. It was a successful trip for the most part, with the Sox winning six out of ten games. The only part that was really bumpy was the middle stop at Yankee Stadium, but that’ll happen against teams that good, and they weren’ completely dominated or anything. Nevertheless, being away from your home ballpark and home fans for nearly two weeks makes for a long and taxing trip.
That’s the baseball season though. It’s a grueling sport, and Major League Baseball teams play long, marathon-like schedules. Playing nine innings 162 times makes for a lot of baseball, don’t ya know. Players are at the ballpark essentially every single day. And being on the road for long periods of time make up a decent sized portion of the season.
So when the team finally gets the chance to return back home after almost two weeks away, it’s like a little bit of a weight has been lifted. And nobody could use a nice home stand more than the Red Sox right now. After two weeks on the road in which they had to battle day in and day out, scratching and clawing with everything they have just to maintain at least a share of first place in the AL East, nothing could feel much better for them than to run onto the field under the lights at Fenway Park, hearing the cheers from the Boston crowd.
While they were on the road, the Red Sox won three out of four games over the Rangers, lost two out of three to the Yankees, then finished the trip off by winning two out of three over the Blue Jays. As they return to Boston for Monday’s game against the Oakland Athletics, the Sox are all knotted up with the Yanks at 28-12 for a first place tie in the AL East.
But now, as they try to pull back ahead of New York, they’ll have the advantage of playing in front of the Boston crowd, arguably the best home crowd in baseball. They’ll have the advantage of playing in one of the most unique ballparks in the Major Leagues, a ballpark that only the home team can truly appreciate. Guys like J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi – three of Boston’s hottest hitters right now, and all huge reasons why the Red Sox haven’t surrendered first place entirely – will step back into the batter’s box at Fenway Park and stare down that Green Monster like it’s a target at a shooting range. As they look to extend their hitting streaks, they’ll get the benefit of doing it where they feel the most comfortable.
After almost two weeks on the road, now they get a nice chunk of time to enjoy being back at Fenway. Three games against Oakland, four games against Baltimore, then a quick three-game trip down to Tampa Bay (but there will be enough Red Sox fans at Tropicana Field that it will almost be like playing at home), then back to Boston for three games against the Braves and three games against the Blue Jays.
Fending off the Yankees and trying to reclaim first place all to themselves won’t be easy, especially considering that New York has won 18 of its last 21 games. But trying to do it at Fenway is certainly a lot better than trying to do so on the road. Meanwhile, it should be pointed out, the Yankees are heading on the road for their next eight games. Right now was the best possible time for this Red Sox team to touch down back in Boston. It’s good to be home.