As the Seattle Mariners undeniably proved in 2001, winning 100 games, or even 116 in the regular season, guarantees nothing when it comes to winning a World Series.
Just a thought Boston Red Sox fans should keep in mind for the next few weeks, even as they rejoice in the milestone their team grasped Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
Just one day after clinching a playoff berth, lefthander David Price tossed seven shutout innings to get Boston moving on its 1-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was Boston’s 100th win of the season in its 146th game, the first time the Red Sox hit triple digits in a season since Ted Williams led the 1946 team to the World Series.
“Pretty crazy,” Price told MLB.com. “As a storied franchise as the Red Sox are, that’s pretty cool. They’ve had a lot of really good teams here and to be in that same conversation with those teams, that’s a lot of consistency.”
Not since the ill-fated Mariners won 100 in its first 140 games in 2001 (while tying the 1906 Cubs for most wins in a season) has a MLB team hit double-digits this quickly. The 1998 New York Yankees, who won the World Series, hold the record by needing just 138 games to win 100.
In addition, Alex Cora, hired by the Sox from the defending champion Houston Astros to replace John Farrell last offseason, is now the first rookie manager since Dusty Baker (1993 San Francisco Giants) to win at least 100 games.
In case you are wondering, Ralph Houk’s 109 wins as a rookie manager on the 1961 Yankees is the MLB record. But he had Mickey, Yogi, Whitey and Roger Maris.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone still has a chance to join Cora. The Yankees are 90-56 with 16 games to play, but have lost six of their last 10 heading into Friday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, so don’t hold your breath.
Despite three world championships since 2004, winning 100 games is rare for the Red Sox. They hadn’t done it since 1946 when they went 104-50, won the AL by 12 games, but lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series on Enos Slaughter’s “mad dash” to the plate in the eighth inning of the final game. Williams was the AL’s MVP that season after returning from World War II.
The Sox also won 100 in 1912 (105) and 1915 (101) and won the World Series in both of those seasons. The 1912 Red Sox had Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper and Smoky Joe Wood, who was 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA in 38 starts over 344 innings. Speaker, Wood and Hooper were still around in 1915, but also was Babe Ruth. Only 20, he was 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA in 28 starts and he hit .315 with four home runs and 20 RBIs in 92 at-bats.
The 2018 Red Sox are well within reach of setting a franchise record for victories. They have 16 games remaining and have not won less than eight games during any 16-game stretch. They also have a chance to win at least 50 at home and one the road for the first time it their history.
“It seems like everything was clicking in Fort Myers, [Fla.,] and we haven’t deviated from the plan,” Cora said Wednesday. “We’ve been very consistent on a daily basis of preparing, going out there and playing. Don’t get me wrong, 100 is 100, but we’ve got bigger goals, honestly. Today we got closer. We’re getting closer to one of the goals and we’ve got to keep playing.”
No need to look any further than the AL hitting leaders to find out why the Red Sox have excelled so this season.
Mookie Betts leads the Majors with his .340 batting average. And J.D. Martinez is right behind, the Major League leader in home runs (40) and RBIs (120) and just trailing Betts in average (.329) as he tries to become the first Triple Crown winner since the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in 2012.
And if you don’t think winning 100 games is tough, here are two more cool facts: The Pirates have not won 100 games in a season since 1909 and the White Sox last won 100 in 1917.
“Somebody just told me it’s been done three times here and the last one was 70-something years ago,” Red Sox first baseman first baseman Mitch Moreland told ESPN.com. “I think that speaks for itself.”