6 Red Sox series to keep an eye on in 2018

These are the games to watch if you can't catch all 162.

Shohei Ohtani pitching in spring training, 2018.

For six months of the year, the Red Sox will be a ubiquitous presence for New Englanders. From March through September, the team will play through the standard 162 regular season games.

The nature of baseball is that any game has the potential to be memorable, or possibly become an instant classic. Trying to pick out the best games ahead of time can be difficult. Still, based on timing and the opponent, a few series can stand out on the schedule even before the season.

Here’s a quick look at a few series that might prove to be especially compelling:

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April 13-16 vs. Orioles: In what will be the first weekend home games of the season, the opening clash with the Orioles offers an opportunity for the Red Sox offense. The team’s combined slugging percentage was near the bottom of the league in 2017, but the Orioles’ potentially weaker rotation is a chance for Boston to showcase new power in 2018. The series will also feature the annual 11:05 a.m. Patriots’ Day game.

May 31-June 3 at Astros: After a few other tests with AL West opposition in April and May, the Red Sox will get a chance to face off against the defending World Series champion Astros. Given the star power in each team’s rotation, it could provide some marquee pitching match-ups. The visit to Houston will also be a homecoming for former Astros bench coach (and first year Red Sox manager) Alex Cora.

June 26-28 vs. Angels: A three-game set in late June might give Fenway Park its first glimpse at a rare development in modern baseball: the two-way player. Shohei Ohtani, a 23-year-old Japanese rookie, will pitch and hit for the Angels this season. If the stars align, he could do both against the Red Sox. Aside from that, it’s another chance for fans to see the always exciting Mike Trout.

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July 2-4 at Nationals: Coming off a 97-win season, many baseball prognosticators see the Nationals making the World Series in 2018. This will be an interesting test for the Red Sox two weeks before the All-Star break. And for the second time in the season, a patriotic holiday will mean an 11:05 a.m. start time on July 4.

August 2-5 vs. Yankees: While waiver trades will still be possible through the end of August, the non-waiver trade deadline will have just passed by the time the Red Sox and Yankees open up a four-game series at Fenway Park. This will be a fascinating period, as both teams are likely to be buyers at the deadline, and might be debuting a new player or two. It will also provide a chance for one team in the AL East to set the tone for the second half of the season.

Sept. 28-30 vs. Yankees: Granted, every series against the Yankees is a must-watch for Red Sox fans. And a notable part of the schedule in 2018 is that as the August clash vs. New York opens the second half of the season, and the Sept. 28-30 series closes it out. It’s impossible to know how the standings will look when the series gets underway on the Friday in September, but there’s always a chance the divisional race could come down to the final weekend. With the star-studded lineups in both dugouts, it has the potential for a climactic regular season finale.

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