Red Sox are on the right track, but their schedule is about to get a lot tougher

The Red Sox begin a three-game road series on Friday against the Guardians (36-29), who won their just-completed three-game set against the Twins. The Twins (39-32) were in the final on Thursday. The clubs rank first in the American League Central.

The Red Sox then travel to Toronto for a three-game set with the Blue Jays, a team that took three out of four from the Sox at the Rogers Center in late April. The Sox are 2-5 against the Blue Jays this year.

The Sox then have a series in Chicago against the Cubs, but their schedule gets tough again with a seven-game homestand against the Rays and Yankees, then a four-game set against the Rays at Tropicana Field, and a three-game Series with the Yankees in the Bronx before the All-Star break.

The Sox dropped series in April to the Rays and Yankees, both of whom were on the road. The Rays lost outfielders Manuel Margot and Kevin Kiermaier to injuries, but get shortstop Wander Franco Back after a quadriceps injury.

The coming weeks will be a test for the Red Sox, but managers Alex Kora said his team was battle-hardened before the last hot steak.

“I mean, it all depends on how you look at it,” Cora said. “The White Sox are a good team. The Angels, everyone thought they were a good team. Seattle, everyone thought they were a good team. It just depends on how you see it. We played Houston and beat them two out of three. The schedule is the schedule.”

The Sox won at least one series against each of the teams Cora mentioned. But those teams, with the exception of the Astros, are no match for upcoming opponents from the Sox, which includes a Yankees team that started Thursday with 51 wins. Still, the Sox have improved significantly since the start of the season. You’re not that team anymore.

“We’re a different team than we were a month and a half ago,” said Cora, “and we’re going to take our chances and see where that takes us. Likewise, we respect [our upcoming opponents], I know that you respect us. You see it. We are ready. Enjoy the grind.”

The Red Sox’s matchup with the Guardians is the first of the season. Cleveland was one of the biggest upsets of the year, led by an MVP nominee Jose Ramirez, who hit .301/.391/1.014 with 16 homers and hit just 21 times. The Guardians are 15-5 in June and recently took a series from the Dodgers.

“They played pretty good baseball,” the Red Sox outfielder said Rob Refsnyder.

ready to play

The Red Sox have played 70 games, and Raphael Devers played 68 of them. Devers had a rare evening off in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over the Tigers.

“If it was up to me, I’d play 162 games,” Devers said. “Sometimes your body asks you for a break, but that’s why I’m preparing for the season.”

Devers’ 68 games ranked third in the majors kicking off Thursday.

Downs back to Triple A

The Red Sox took an option Jeter Downs to Triple A Worcester Thursday. Downs made his major league debut at third base Wednesday night and went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. . Christian Arroyo is likely to be activated by the COVID-related casualty list for the series opener against the Guardians. Arroyo played in two rehab games for the WooSox. . . Nick Pivetta will toe the plate against Cleveland’s Cal Quantrill Friday night, Josh Winckowski will compete against each other Shane Bieber on Saturday and rich hill takes the ball Aaron Civale On Sunday.

Julian McWilliams can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.

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