Seven Days

I’m back! I was in Denver, working on some humdrum event that was going on there this past week, and it’s nice to be home. I seem to have missed a few things, though:

  • The Red Sox failed to gain much ground on the Tampa Bay Rays. When I left town last Saturday, the Sox were 5.5 games back. Now they’re 4.5 behind.
  • On the other hand, they have opened up some significant breathing room in the Wild Card race — tied with the White Sox, one up on the Twins and five ahead of the Yankees. Now they’re three up on Chicago, 3.5 ahead of Minnesota and seven up on New York. All in all, the Red Sox made huge strides toward the postseason. Six of the seven games this week came against two of those three teams, and the Sox went 5-1. That’s huge.
  • Dustin Pedroia vaulted himself into the MVP race by batting .448/.529/.724 during perhaps the Sox’ most key week of the season thus far. He’s also eight for his last eight and nine for his last 10 and reached base in 10 straight plate appearances. Have you got your sunglasses?
  • Theo Epstein has looked like a genius. Jason Bay? Three multihit games and 11 RBI in the week. Paul Byrd? Three decent starts since his acquisition and a key win against the Yankees this past week. Mark Kotsay? Acquired this week, he’s gone 5 for 13 (.384) with three extra-base hits and four RBI in his first three games. And for what it’s worth, the Red Sox are 18-8 since The Trade.

I keep using the word "key." That’s exactly what that week was. The Red Sox’ last 11 games were all against teams who were potential Wild Card threats. The Sox won two of three from Toronto, two of three from New York and at least two of three from Chicago. They pulled within five games of .500 on the road, and they’ve done it without Josh Beckett. Since he went down Aug. 17, the Sox are 7-3, with two wins from Paul Byrd and a win from Michael Bowden.

The Red Sox have had their share of adversity this season: Key (that word again) injuries to David Ortiz, Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, J.D. Drew, Tim Wakefield, Sean Casey and Mike Lowell. Jacoby Ellsbury has struggled. Manny Ramirez was traded. They’ve been forced to use 11 starters  — just one fewer than the lost season of 2006. Yet this club looks more and more like it will be headed toward its fifth postseason in six years, a testament to the breakout years of Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Pedroia and Youkilis, as well as to Theo Epstein’s smart moves in acquiring Bay, Byrd and Kotsay.

It’s been a good week.

22 comments… add one

  • Yes, a good week indeed.
    Even that one loss in NY, bummer though it was, had its positives, namely Lester’s return to form after that debacle in Toronto. (And if I remember correctly, he was just one foul tip that Tek could not hold on to – not a criticism of the captain, just to show how close it was – away from striking out Ransom and getting out of the 7th with a 2-0 lead, a lead that Oki and Paps probably would have kept intact the rest of the way.)
    Then there’s Daisuke Matsusaka who in his last starts has walked decidedly fewer batters and has gone longer into games. If he keeps this up his games might actually become fun to watch.
    Also, though Beckett did not pitch a game this week the news of his shoulder being structurally sound must be counted as good news. Seems he was battling a mental problem as much as the tingling and numbness. Hopefully he now can leave all that behind him and return to being the Josh Beckett we know and love.
    Lowell, Drew and Casey also should come off the DL in September. That should make for a pretty good postseason team. (Anybody else on the DL we want back? Nope, didn’t think so.)
    By the way, the Pythagorean win-loss projection has the Sox at 80-55 right now, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Rays and 6 ahead of the Angels (who’se actual record is a whopping 9 games better than projected!!). Best team in the AL? Might well your Boston Red Sox.
    This team definitely still has a good shot at the division. And we can all hope for greater things in October. (Need to avoid that flu bug though for the rest of the season.)
    Oh, and Clay was dominating in his second start for Portland. He’ll be back eventually.
    Red Sox fans being optimistic. That’s where the 21st century is different from the 20th …

    pale blue eyes August 31, 2008, 7:21 am
  • Yeah, the fact that we’ve done so well without Drew and Lowell is great news. When they’re back and replacing Cora/Crisp we’re going to do great.

    Atheose August 31, 2008, 10:30 am
  • Thome homers off Wakes to tie Mantle on the all-time list.

    I'mBillMcNeal August 31, 2008, 1:43 pm
  • Sox have had runners at least on second and third in three of four innings and only one run to show for it… That’s aggravating.

    Paul SF August 31, 2008, 2:49 pm
  • Yeah, this game has been even more of a LOB-fest than usual for a Sox game. It’s like watching the Yankees or something…

    stuck working August 31, 2008, 2:55 pm
  • Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Ignore my flamebait from 20 minutes ago.

    stuck working August 31, 2008, 3:18 pm
  • Is it just my memory failing me or has Papi been a bit unclutch recently?

    pale blue eyes August 31, 2008, 3:38 pm
  • I don’t think it’s unclutchness, PBE — I just don’t think he’s been hitting well generally.
    Pedroia in clean-up again goes more like you’d think it would today, 1 for 3 with a BB but also 2 SB. Red Sox squander his lead-off walk in the 8th and are now down to their final 3 outs with Cora and Cash due up.

    stuck working August 31, 2008, 3:59 pm
  • He hasn’t hit a home run this month except in the Texas series when he had 3, but his last week or so has been good, with quite a few doubles.

    Devine August 31, 2008, 4:08 pm
  • 4th run for White Sox probably puts this one on ice. Not that bottom of the order and Jenks is that good a bet for even two runs anyway.

    Devine August 31, 2008, 4:10 pm
  • And the pinch hitter for Cash is…Jonathan Van Every??

    stuck working August 31, 2008, 4:17 pm
  • Struck out on a BS called strike. That’s happened a bit today.
    Ellsbury singles. Hm. The tying run is up.

    Devine August 31, 2008, 4:19 pm
  • Tying run is on as Ortiz walks. Here comes Pedroia with 2 out. At least there was fight in them, if nothing else.

    Devine August 31, 2008, 4:25 pm
  • Now Pedroia up in the clean up spot again. And now a HR could win it. Crazy.

    stuck working August 31, 2008, 4:25 pm
  • Tying run at 2nd as Coco steals.

    Devine August 31, 2008, 4:26 pm
  • No walk-off laser show. Sigh.

    Atheose August 31, 2008, 4:27 pm
  • Ohhhhh.
    Still 18-9 and lots and lots of series won this month is pretty cool.
    That’ll make me feel better in 10, 15 minutes.

    Devine August 31, 2008, 4:27 pm
  • Bah. Pedroia over-eager there. Still, I’m happy with the series, and glad to see the Sox make a game of it in the end.

    stuck working August 31, 2008, 4:27 pm
  • Do the Rays ever lose? Good lord. This looks like a day that we’ll lose a step on everyone but the Yankees — though after their road trip, I suspect I won’t need to mention them in the context of the wild card anymore, anyway.

    stuck working August 31, 2008, 4:30 pm
  • Go Oakland!

    Devine August 31, 2008, 4:33 pm
  • F*** Oakland!

    Devine September 1, 2008, 12:17 am
  • > It’s been a good week
    … to find a new hobby heading for October.

    attackgerbil September 1, 2008, 12:44 am

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