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Start for Boston Red Sox is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game. Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.

Angels fire GM Billy Eppler after 5 straight losing seasons

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels fired general manager Billy Eppler on Sunday after the long-struggling franchise finished its fifth consecutive losing season under his watch.

Eppler was under contract for one more year with the Angels in an extension he signed in July with no public announcement, but team president John Carpino said the franchise will seek new baseball leadership after missing the playoffs for the sixth straight year.

The Angels have endured a historically bad half-decade during Eppler’s tenure despite many positive moves made by the former New York Yankees executive, all while dealing with the spending whims of owner Arte Moreno.

But Eppler was dismissed when the Angels couldn’t even make the eight-team AL playoff field this month. Los Angeles finished 26-34 in the pandemic-shortened season with a star-studded roster including three-time AL MVP Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani playing for manager Joe Maddon.

Eppler’s teams went 332-376 (.469) under three managers with a rotating cast of supporting players around Trout and Pujols.

Eppler didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

The 45-year-old Eppler took the fall for a decade of mostly miserable baseball under Moreno, whose penchant for handing out big-money contracts to older veteran players has repeatedly hurt his club since its last playoff victory in 2009.

Eppler began each of his seasons working around the 10-year, $240 million deal given by Moreno to Pujols, whose performance hasn’t come close to justifying the huge chunk of payroll taken up by the 40-year-old superstar for many years. Moreno also interfered in other areas, such as firing Eppler’s hand-picked manager, Brad Ausmus, after one season and installing Maddon last fall.

Eppler rebuilt a farm system that was left barren by former GM Jerry Dipoto, and he both signed Trout to a massive contract extension and persuaded Ohtani to bring his two-way talents to the Angels. Eppler’s farm system is finally bearing fruit recently, with blue-chip prospect Jo Adell, slugger Jared Walsh and infielder David Fletcher making impacts on the Angels this season with other prospects on the way.

Yet Eppler never managed to sign enough quality pitchers to prevent Trout’s Angels from being a perennial also-ran. Eppler repeatedly guessed wrong in his acquisitions from Tim Lincecum and Trevor Cahill to Matt Harvey and Julio Teheran, leaving the Angels with one of the majors’ worst starting rotations for much of his tenure.

The Angels still haven’t won a playoff game with Trout, who will turn 30 years old next August. The Halos finished the season by losing 5-0 to the crosstown Dodgers, who have won eight straight NL West titles.

Moreno doesn’t plan to discuss his latest franchise reboot publicly until Wednesday.