Jun. 20, 2017
Despite an inconsistent start, the Sox are in prime position to make a run
It's been a strange year for the 2017 Red Sox through their first 69 games of the season. One minute we're talking about firing manager John Farrell and the next they're looking like the team that was picked to win the division in the offseason. About a month ago, the Sox lost 3 out of 4 to a last place Oakland A's team, and it looked like the crap was about to hit the fan with this team. The offense wasn't consistent enough, with guys like Andrew Benintendi scuffling at times at the plate and slugger Hanley Ramirez in and out of the lineup. And beside Chris Sale's dominance, the rest of the rotation couldn't be trusted with Porcello not pitching up to his potential.
After falling to 21-21 on the season, and hovering toward the bottom of the standings, the Sox then went on a run, winning 11 of their next 15 games heading into an important showdown against the first place Yankees. The Sox took game 1 of the series, but then got pummeled in the next two games. As soon as they looked like they were about to turn the corner, the Sox disappointed us again. The series loss to the Yankees was a letdown because it was a chance for Boston to at least tie for the division lead and get their first statement series win of the season. Even with the series loss to their rivals, the Sox still kept plugging away.
The Sox won two-straight series' over the Tigers and the dreadful Phillies before this weekends series against the American Leagues best Houston Astros. The Astros have the best record in baseball and have looked like the best team in the league through most of the season. Just like the Sox, they are led by some of the best young stars in the game, including All Star Jose Altuve, George Springer, and talented short stop Carlos Correa. This was another chance for the Sox to go on the road, and win a series against a prominent opponent.
The Sox came to play in Houston, and showed that they can win in multiple ways. In game 1 on Friday night, they won a 2-1 game after an 8th-inning home run off the bat of Mookie Betts. The Astros beat Porcello around in game 2, winning 7-1, but the Sox rebounded in impressive fashion last night. Short Stop Xander Bogaerts, who came into the game with only 2 home runs on the year, doubled that total by hitting 2 last night, the first ever multi-home run game of his career. Despite only giving up 3 runs, David Price was still shaky, giving up 2 home runs including one to short stop Carlos Correa. Bogaerts' second home run came the inning after Correas, to put the Sox back on top. The Sox would score 4 runs in the 6th, and despite the Astros jumping back into it, they were able to hold off Houston for the 6-5 win. Thanks in large part to the arm of Benintendi, who gunned down Houston's Altuve at the plate to hold the Sox' one-run lead.
With the series win in Houston, the Sox are now tied with the Yankees for the division lead. Despite all the Sox drama with David Price's injury and Pablo Sandoval proving to be completely useless to this team, the Sox are right there. And if you really think about it, I don't think they have peaked yet. The offense is defiantly better than what they have shown, still ranking only 28th in the league in home runs. They should rise in that category as Betts and Bogaerts begin to find their power strokes. As for the starters, a guy like Rick Porcello can not be as bad as his 5.05 ERA indicates. Price and the back-end of the rotation is the wild card, along with the bullpen that surprisingly continues to get it done behind the dominance of closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel earned his American League leading 20th save in last nights win.
As the All Star break gets closer and closer, the Sox have put themselves in a great position to get into first place by the mid-summer Classic. The Yankees have lost 6 in a row, while the Sox continue to roll. I have been wrong about this a couple of times already this season, but finally I feel like the Red Sox are about ready to take off.