Friday, June 18, 2010

Hey, Look at That! Sox Are 2 Games Back (Oh, And Manny's Back)

We're midway through June in the year of our Lord 2010 and the Boston Redsox are 2 games behind the 2 best teams in baseball. By winning percentage as of today (.588), the team that plays in Fenway is the third best team in all of baseball. Woo hoo! Give us a bronze medal!

We got plenty of problems with the pitching staff and injuries, but I guess there is one interesting thing to say about how this team has been resiliently playing: Thank you, all-knowing, all-giving Jah, for interleague play! The Sox have been beating the crap out of teams like the Phillies and Diamondbacks with a strange combination of a banged up outfield, some grit and toughness from the bullpen, and a lineup that never gives up. Things are oddly clicking, and it's got to have Yankee and Rays fans sweating in their Underoos.

Seems like every other day someone is landing on the DL or getting a coritsone shot or having a hurt back and neck... So to be the third best team in all of baseball must feel really freaking good considering.

I'm mightily impressed by the bounce back and mental toughness of Lester, Buchholz, Scutaro, Beltre, Martinez and Ortiz. These 6 guys have been doing a tremendous job of being good when it matters. There have been many contributions, so not entirely fair to single them out, but for different reasons, these 6 gentleman stick out to me.

Lester is dominating. Buchholz is giving the team a chance to win just about every outing. Scutaro is getting on base consistently and scoring. Beltre is hitting the cover off the ball (and incidentally is the second hardest swinger I have ever seen next to Gary Sheffield). Martinez is a patient, methodical hitter who is not afraid to put pressure on the defense by getting on base and taking walks. And Ortiz is back to Big Papi status knocking balls to the deepest part of Fenway for home runs, but also going opposite field and hitting singles and doubles with regularity.

I shouldn't be gushing in mid-June, but I can't help it. A month ago we thought there was no chance in Hades this team was playoff bound, but with solid, consistent play, this team is showing it deserves a real shot.

Two things to note: First, Manny is back in Fenway, and while he will be booed in his at bats, I think he deserves to be applauded for the championships he was part of for Boston. Yeh, he's a flakey-bakey nutjob (and the way he left was downright retahded), but he's also one of the greatest and feared hitters ever to play the game.

Secondly, the Sox have called up triple-A prospect Felix Doubront for a start against the Dodgers tonight. This lefty has been pitching really well for Pawtucket , so I'm excited to see what he can do against the likes of Manny, Kemp, Ethier and the rest of a decent swinging, first-place NL team. Doubront moved from Portland to Pawtucket this year and in 12 starts for both teams is 6-1 with a combined ERA of 2.11.

[Image by Eric Kilby via Flickr cc 3.0]