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En route to a franchise-record 108 games won, their fourth World Series title since 2004 and ninth overall, the Boston Red Sox opened last season 17-2.

And in keeping just about their entire core intact, one would have thought the Crimson Hose would shoot out the gate this season ablaze.

Problem was, the defending champs spent their first 11 games of the season ordering room service and didn’t open the home portion of their campaign until Tuesday. For $100 backers, it proved costly, as they lost the most money for a returning World Series champion since 2000 over its first 11 games.

The Red Sox lost eight of their first 10 games, matching the worst start in franchise history, and were 3-8 after 11 with $100 bettors losing $865 in the process. They were just the second defending champ to go 3-8 in those games, following the 2014 San Francisco Giants, who dropped $605 for $100 investors.

For the most part, defending champs have made backers money in that same time span, dating back to 2000, going 118-91 for a net profit of $525. Over that time, 11 teams made money; eight did not — including Boston three of four times. In the Red Sox’s four seasons following a title, they’re 19-25 with a net loss of $1,220.

But when there are 162 games in a season, 11 might be considered a mere speck. It’s the bigger picture — for future bettors perhaps — that comes into play.

Of the 19 champions since 2000, 10 made the playoffs. nine did not. Boston made it two of three times.

There is no clear-cut reason to Boston’s struggles, as its pitching has been woefully inconsistent and hitting has been stagnant.

Heading into Tuesday’s home opener against Toronto, Red Sox starters had an 8.57 ERA after allowing 47 runs and 16 home runs — both major league worsts. At the plate, Boston was hitting a mediocre .238 overall and just .250 with runners in scoring position. 

The Red Sox were also outscored 72-46, and the minus-26 run differential ranked last in the major leagues.

This week will tell a lot about the chemistry and mettle of the defending champs, as they’ll get six straight at home before heading to the Bronx to face their arch-rival New York Yankees next Tuesday and Wednesday.

And that’s where we start with this week’s picks, as I head to Fenway Park for Friday night’s matchup with Baltimore.

Defending World Series Champions


Orioles at Red Sox: Baltimore will be arriving after hosting Oakland and Fenway should be packed for the first Friday night game of the season.  

Southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez should be up, and he’ll be looking to erase what has been one of the roughest starts to the season for any Boston pitcher. Rodriguez was charged with six runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings against the A’s in his last start and has allowed 12 runs over eight innings so far this season. Last season he was 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA at home. 

Against Baltimore last season, opposing batters hit just .229, so he should exude some confidence for this one. RED SOX

Brewers at Dodgers: The price on this one is going to be high, so you’ll likely want to play this one on the run line. That’s because Milwaukee starter Corbin Burnes has been brutalized in two starts thus far. The right-hander is the first Brewers pitcher in 20 seasons to get rocked for three home runs in consecutive appearances. 

It’s not something one thinks of in his first two Major League starts, but for now, the Brewers appear to be sticking with him as a starter. That doesn’t bode well for this start, however, as the Dodgers rolled into the week leading the league with a .296 batting average and a second-best 87 runs scored. At home, on a Friday, at Chavez Ravine, against this youngster, Dodgers roll. DODGERS

Rockies at Giants: Another potential run line play is in San Francisco, where the Giants will host Colorado. I like the home team to victimize Rockies starter Chad Bettis, who struggled with location while walking four and allowing a whopping six runs on seven hits in a mere 2 2/3 innings at home against the Dodgers his last time out. 

After his first two starts, his ERA swelled to 11.88, and now he faces a team that could be looking to climb out of the cellar of the National League West. As bad as it’s been offensively for San Francisco this season, the Rockies might be just what the doctor ordered. G­IANTS

Last week: 0-3

Season: 0-3

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About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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