For the past two weeks, the Red Sox have been fighting for their lives. And they’re winning that fight.
The Red Sox were ten games out on June 20, and the season was dead. We woke up today on July 1, only to see that the Red Sox are only six games back of first place, and the season doesn’t look so dead anymore. When they were seven games out, I said that if they could get within five games by the All Star break that they’d win the division. That was somewhat hyperbole, as I’ve often been known to use in tweets, but the point was that I believed that if they could get within five games by the break that we could officially say that they’re back in contention. Well, they could very well be five games back or better by the weekend, never mind the All Star break.
Bertrand and Zolak had me on their show yesterday, because they thought I was crazy for that comment. Then I hit them with some facts. Everyone wants to look at this Red Sox team, ask how many games it will take to win the division, and then mathematically rule them out by looking at the sustained winning percentage it would take to get there. Well, that’s not the best way to look at it. On June 3, the Red Sox and the Orioles were tied in the loss column. Now the Orioles are in first place, and they made that giant leap of every team in the division — that same leap that everyone else is talking about like it’s insurmountable — and they did it in less than a month. The Red Sox have 83 games to do what the Orioles just did in 23 games. And the way they accomplish that is by going on a big run — the kind of run that it looks like they’re on the verge of going on right now.
They’ve won three straight, four of five, and they’re 8-4 since some asshole blogger got Pablo Sandoval benched. So this begs the question: Should you even bother believing in this team? We’ve seen them play well before for a small sample size, only to suck for a larger sample size immediately after. It’s more than fair to be skeptical at this point. However, I’ll ask you the same question I asked Beetle and Zo. The Red Sox are in last place, but are they actually a last place team? What was it that sunk this team into the basement of the American League East in the first place? When they hit, they don’t pitch. And when they pitch, they don’t hit. Well, now they’re doing both, and they’re winning plenty of games because of it. Since June 18, the game that Sandoval got benched, the Red Sox are third in the American League in OPS (.781) and their rotation is fourth in the league in ERA (3.34). I’ve said all along that if this team ever clicks, they’re going to go on a run, and it looks like we may be seeing the early stages of that happening.
That brings us to tonight’s starter — the human winning streak-killer himself, Rick Porcello. The Red Sox haven’t won four straight all year, and they’ve got the worst possible guy on the mound to make that happen. He got a win over the weekend in Tampa, but I still don’t think anybody is feeling too great when his turn comes up in the rotation. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this is the biggest start of the year for Porcello. The Red Sox finally have something going here, and fans are starting to put down the Zoloft and pick up the rally beers. Don’t fuck this up, Rick. Do. Not. Fuck. This. Up.
Oh, and plenty of people are going to be talking about this today. Eduardo Rodriguez was, apparently, tipping his pitches in his last start against the Orioles. Jerry Remy was illustrating how he was tipping his pitches on the broadcast, but apparently Dennis Eckersley wasn’t a big fan of that, due to the advantage that it could possibly give to other teams now. I can’t imagine the Red Sox being too happy about that being on the broadcast, either, but that’s the kind of stuff you want to see if you’re a fan, watching the game on TV. Hopefully this gets resolved before his next start, seeing as though Rodriguez is the best pitcher on the staff next to Clay Buchholz — that is, when he’s not telling opposing batters what he’s about to throw them.