It might not feel like it, but the Red Sox are still very much in the playoff hunt. The expansion of the Wild Card to three slots gives middling teams the chance to make the postseason with a strong second half.
If Boston is to realize its playoffs dream, though, the club needs to perform at a high level in August. There’s little room for error with the squad currently outside the final WC spot, so they need to make up ground over the next few weeks.
With that in mind, here are three series the Red Sox must win this month.
Key Red Sox Series in August
1. vs. Blue Jays (Aug. 4-6)
Boston’s first full series in the month of August is also one of the most important. The Red Sox will play three games against the Blue Jays, who currently lead them by 2.5 games for the final Wild Card spot. This is a massive opportunity for Boston to pad its record, hurt Toronto’s, and make their case as a legit playoff threat.
The first game of the series looks especially ripe for the taking. The Red Sox will be coming off of a much-needed rest day, allowing the club to reset following a disappointing road trip. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, must travel to Boston after finishing up a hard-fought four-game tilt against the AL East-leading Orioles on Thursday.
Further helping the Red Sox’s case for a strong start is James Paxton being slated for the series opener against Alex Manoah. Paxton held opponents to 2 runs or fewer in three of his four outings last month and showed incredible control by issuing just 7 total walks in July. Manoah, on the other hand, has allowed 8 runs over his last three starts and owns a dismal 5.87 ERA on the year.
If Boston capitalizes in Game 1, the path to a series victory gets much easier.