COMMENTARY | One hundred wins is what separates very good teams from very great teams.
No one in the AL has done it since the New York Yankees' 2009 championship team. It's a feat that the Boston Red Sox franchise hasn't achieved since 1946. But the 2013 edition of the team, catching fire at the right time, has an outside shot at reaching the benchmark.
With 17 games remaining, the Red Sox will need to finish on a 13-4 run to hit 100 wins. After an absolute torrid week that saw them score 54 runs over four games, it feels like anything is possible for this team.
But will the schedule cooperate?
The road ahead will not be an easy one as four of the final six series feature teams currently in the playoff picture. A quick three-game set in Tampa is followed by the final homestand against the Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles. A two-game trip to Colorado for the last NL matchup of the season precedes another trip to Baltimore at the end of the year.
Recent history says to tread lightly.
With a dwindling magic number, the AL East could be wrapped up soon, and some players are in dire need of rest. Jacoby Ellsbury may or may not be back before the end of the season and Clay Buchholz's health is always a concern, though he is slated to return this week.
It's going to be a very fine line for manager John Farrell. The 100-win threshold is certainly doable, but it will take some grinding. Luck will almost assuredly swing the other way, and the Red Sox could find themselves on the wrong end of a blowout or two. But it can't come at the expense of pushing a pitcher too far in a game. It can't result in shortened rest or pinch-hitting a player less than 100 percent for the sake of eking out a victory.
In the end, there is unlikely to be any real difference between 99 and 100 wins when it comes to seeding. The Red Sox lead the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics by a comfortable margin, and the ultimate goal is to win the World Series. An impressive regular season does not guarantee postseason success -- just ask the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who lost in five to the Yankees in that year's ALCS despite winning 116.
The Red Sox are flying toward the playoffs, and keeping the momentum going will be paramount to October success. Whether that results in reaching triple-digit wins remains to be seen, but it is within reach.
Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7.
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