The Boston Red Sox are on what those in the bakery biz like to call "a roll."
They sit well ahead in the Wild Card, and now are just five games back of the Yankees, closer than they've been since that terrible four-game series in early August. Not coincidentally, the Red Sox are an MLB-best 27-11 since the day after that series. That's a .711 winning percentage, if you're keeping track at home.
Even better, since the last time the Sox played the Yankees, an 8-4 loss on Aug. 23, the Sox are 19-6, winning an even 76 percent of their games over the past month. With 14 games left, that would put the Sox at 11-3 the rest of the way, for a final record of 100-62.
Were that to happen, and we assume that includes the Sox' pulling off a highly improbable series sweep next weekend in the Bronx, the Sox would win the AL East if the Yankees go 5-4 in their nine remaining non-Sox games.
(For the record, the last time the Yankees went 5-4 in any given nine-game stretch was the nine games ending Saturday. New York is now 4-5 in its last nine games, while the Sox are 8-1 in theirs. Keeping up that pace, of course, the Sox will gain first place sometime next week.)
It's highly unlikely — very highly. In 2004, the Red Sox were the best second-half team in baseball and finished with 98 wins, but they could draw no closer than two games behind the Yankees and finished three back. At this point in the season, they were closer to the Yankees (4.5 games) than these Sox are now.
Still, the reason we're even discussing this is that the Sox have been insanely hot for a good long stretch of time. Thanks to a combination of their own high-quality play and their good fortune in the quality of opponent they're drawing, the Sox seem to be a lock to win every game they play. The starters haven't given up more than three runs in 13 consecutive starts. The offense has scored nearly 200 runs in 30 games.
We take it for granted these days that the Sox will win a game tied 3-3 in the sixth on a day when Jon Lester hasn't looked his best, or that Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose last efforts in Boston redefined the word "suckage," will churn out good starts, or that Alex Gonzalez, who last we checked is not actually a hitter by any strict definition of the word, will keep getting key hits.
If it feels like a while since we've felt this good about the Red Sox, that's probably because it is. The last time a Sox team won 19 of 25 games this late in the season was from Aug. 24 to Sept. 19, 2004. In fact, the only seasons recently in which the Sox have posted a 19-6 record over any stretch of 25 games at any point during the regular season? 2004, 2007, 2009. Seems like I can think of something else those first two seasons have in common…
I'm not saying this will last, but I do plan on enjoying it as long as it does — and hoping it continues until the Sox run out of games in the first week of November.