Consistency Is Key For The Red Sox Down The Stretch
It’s late August, and the Boston Red Sox are actually in the midst of the pennant race. Currently, they are in a first-place tie with new their new rival North of the Border. And with the last series in September slated for a showdown at Fenway Park, the two first place clubs in the AL East are going to go at it all through September. As I told a colleague on Twitter, that final stretch is going to decide the whole enchilada.
Even more so, however, is the performance of certain Red Sox players that have helped them with eight of their last ten and go 7-2 so far on their current 11-game road trip.
Since the all star break, Betts and Ramirez have a combined 59 RBI and lead the AL in that category at 6th and 7th respectively. Betts is also hitting .352 during the month of August. Additionally, David Ortiz is hitting .458 in his last seven games on the road trip – good enough for third in the American League among players with at least 20 at bats in that time frame.
But it’s the bottom sector of the lineup – Jackie Bradley, Sandy Leon, and Andrew Benintendi – that have been making the difference as of late. In his last 15 games, Leon is batting .388 with 4 HR and 10 RBI, including clutch home runs against Baltimore and Detroit last week. Since being called up August 2nd, Benintendi has been hitting .323 with 7 hits in the last 7 games. I remember when scoffers told me that there was no chance for the Red Sox to improve without parting with one of their top two prospects at the deadline. Perhaps they didn’t see who had a multi-hit game last night. Did I mention he also saved Monday’s game in Tampa with the catch of the year? Lastly, Jackie Bradley – who raked to begin the season, is coming back into form – hitting two home runs in his last seven games.
On the mound, Boston has suffered several gut-wrenching losses at the hands of their bullpen. But their starting pitching has been keeping them in games.
David Price and Rick Porcello have BAA’s of .125 and .160 in their past three combined starts. Drew Pomeranz is coming off back-to-back decisions in which he gave up two earned runs or less and recorded wins. Eduardo Rodriguez was throwing a no-hitter before he was taken out of the game due to injury last week in Baltimore. Fortunately, he is set to make his next start along with Steven Wright. Even Clay Buchholz, who was once the laughing stock of sports radio in Boston has consecutive starts of six-plus innings. What was once the Red Sox biggest weakness is now one of their greatest strengths and most competitive areas.
The pundits said this road trip was going to be a disaster. The worst they can finish now is 7-4 and with Cy Young candidate Rick Porcello pitching tonight against the lowly Tampa Bay Rays, Boston will look to improve their record and gain sole possession of first over Toronto.
Can they keep this going?
It’s going to be one fun ride.
Let’s buckle up for September.