Here's a team, who at the All-Star Break was a lackluster 48-38, seven games out of the division lead.
This team was an even more lackluster 58-49 on Aug. 6, nearly a month later, now 10.5 games out.
Nine days later, on Aug. 15, it was little better, now 64-52 and still 10.5 games back.
Of course, we all know the 2004 Red Sox won the World Series.
It's worth remembering that even after the much-cited Nomar Garciaparra trade, the Sox were mediocre for another two weeks. They then reeled off 20 wins in 22 games, including 10 in a row, and cut the Yankees' lead to two games — gaining 8.5 games in three weeks. A similar run now would leave Boston ahead of New York by three games with about three weeks to play.
Now the obvious counterpoint is that the 2004 Sox were mediocre post-break, but they weren't downright terrible, as the Sox have been — 8-14 going into last night's game. True, but the '04 club did go 9-13 in a 22-game stretch ending July 7, and for that matter the 2007 Sox also went 9-13 in a 22-game span, ending July 20.
So both recent World Series winners have been terrible over similar stretches (the '06 club, by contrast, was 6-16 in a stretch ending Sept. 9, so they were even worse later in the year), and one of them rallied to make up far more ground in the standings than the Sox need to this year.
With that in mind, now that we know the 2009 Red Sox won't go 0 for the rest of the season, here are a few reasons for optimism:
- The Sox have now received strong starts from four starters in their most recent appearances, and we'll see about Junichi Tazawa tonight.
- Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting .363/.409/.513 since July 24, and .303/.365/.445 since he was dropped in the lineup May 31.
- Jason Bay has a five-game hitting streak with two home runs in that span.
- J.D. Drew is hitting .405/.500/.568 in his last 12 games, including five multihit games.
- Victor Martinez has been effective since his introduction into the Red Sox lineup.
Hey, it's a start, right?