Red Sox Surge Towards October

Nick Glennon

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In recent years that Red Sox have flopped in September and narrowly missed the postseason. That clearly won’t be the case this year.

The Sox have greatly exceeded expectations for this season. They’re #1 on ESPN’s latest MLB Power Rankings, 1st in the AL East and are the first Red Sox team with 92 wins through 151 games since the Sox team of the year 1951. They have the most wins in the league, 2nd most road wins in the league, the most runs scored and the highest run differential (+176) in all of baseball. They clinched the AL East with more than 10 games left.

New hitters Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes have provided a major spark for the Sox. Napoli brings power (23 HR’s and 90 RBI’s) that was definitely missing in last year’s line-up. Shane Victorino (.295 batting average) brings stability to the lineup while also helping out defensively in the outfield. However, Johnny Gomes may have the biggest impact of them all. While not a very explosive hitter (.239 average, 12 HR’s and 49 RBI’s), Gomes brings much integrity to the clubhouse. It’s quite clear that Gomes is a positive influence and a guy that the other players cherish. This type of locker room standout has been sorely missed in recent years as team chemistry is very crucial in baseball.

However, the starting rotation is the definite strong point of the team. Clay Buchholz (1.51 ERA and 11 wins) has pitched like an ace when healthy. His return is only going to help the team more. Jon Lester (3.75 ERA, 14-8, 165 strikeouts) has been another standout starter this year. Jake Peavy, obtained from the White Sox on July 31st, is 3-1 with a 3.68 ERA in his time with the team. John Lackey has had a miraculous comeback year. While his 10-12 record may not show much improvement, he’s unquestionably had a great year. He has an ERA of 3.44 – a vast improvement of last year’s 6.41 ERA. The rest of the rotation is fairly decent as well.

Also, the Sox don’t really have much competition in the American League, The rival Yankees are 4th in the AL East with a record of 80-72 and have a mere 6.2% chance of making the playoffs according to ESPN’s projections. The Rays look like they will make the playoffs but they have basically no chance at beating the Sox in any postseason series. The closest completion in the AL has to be either the Detroit Tigers or Oakland Athletics. The Tigers have a very strong lineup led by reigning triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera and a solid pitching rotation that includes ace Justin Verlander. The A’s are a different story. They’re a team of misfits and odd balls that seem to grind out win after win. But they should be taken very seriously. Both of these teams are very serious threats to Boston’s World Series dreams.

Although the Red Sox are looking like one of the more dominant teams in baseball right now, a World Series run looks to be difficult. They have the leadership and chemistry to get there. However, health and consistency is crucial. They will definitely need Clay Buchholz to be at his best. When he pitches they are a force to be reckoned with. Competition will also be hard. The A’s and Tigers are hungry and the Rays always have a little bit of fight in them. October is when teams show whether they are true contenders or pretenders. Right now the feeling in Boston is that the Red Sox are contenders.

Things are looking very good for the Sox as October rapidly approaches.

 

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