The Red Sox aren’t exactly cruising toward this weekend’s trip to London for an international two-game series against the rival Yankees.
Boston just lost two straight to the 29-win Blue Jays at Fenway Park and currently sits eight games behind New York in the American League East.
“Obviously it’s an important series,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told NESN, via NESN.com. “It’s not vacation. I’ve been telling people, we’ve got business to do over there. We’re chasing the Yankees right now and those two games are important.”
While the games in London certainly are outside the norm for Major League Baseball and the two teams, New England sports franchises have a history of global competition and in London in particular. The Patriots, specifically, have played two games at London’s Wembley Stadium in the last decade, both dominant victories.
The first journey across the pond for Bill Belichick’s squad came back in 2009, a late-October trip to take on Tampa Bay. New England jumped out to an early lead on a Brandon Meriweather 39-yard interception return for a touchdown and 14-yard Tom Brady-to-Wes Welker connection on the way to a 35-7 beatdown of the Bucs. Brady threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns in the convincing win, while Welker caught all 10 passes thrown his way for 107 yards.
Three years later the Patriots got the call to play in London in front of their passionate European fan base once again, this time a late-October meeting with the overmatched Rams. While the then-St. Louis squad scored first, Brady and Co. churned out six touchdowns on the way to the 45-7 blowout. In his second battle in the home of Big Ben, Brady threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski had a pair of scores each, the latter famously celebrating a TD imitating one of the Queen’s Guards who stand duty at Buckingham Palace.
“That little nutcracker dude that’s guarding the house,” Gronkowski explained afterwards of the unique celebration. “Just having some fun out there with the team. The first one was the guy that guards the palace; how he just walks back and forth. It’s cool to learn tradition.”