|Poised to pounce, or fall off the cliff?|
The Red Sox, by virtue of some off day help in the division, are eight and half games down in the AL East division.
They are seven and half games down in the AL Wild Card hunt.
Is the season a wash out?
Are the Red Sox done and time to open the exit doors to start selling off the team that has so badly under performed in 2015?
Not quite yet.
The next 10 days will make all the difference to show their fan base if this Red Sox team has any chance at all to compete this season.
Just 10 days... 10 games... all against division rivals.
This coming 10 game stretch that starts tonight when the Red Sox open against the Orioles at Fenway for a three game series, then three games on the road against the Rays followed immediately by a four game marathon with the Blue Jays.
They will need to ride the recently found ability to score runs and hammer at the plate.
Since June 2 the Red Sox have started to turn on that offense we have hear so much about, yet seen so little of. They come to Fenway tonight hitting .296 in June, the highest average in the majors. They're first in hits (205), first in doubles (47), tied for first in triples (8), third in slugging (.466), fourth in on-base average (.343), seventh in runs (94) and 11th in home runs (19).
They've had 10 or more hits in 11 of 20 games this month, including five such games in their past seven. That stretch includes a season-high 18 hits last Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves, and 16 hits twice against the Royals in wins Friday and Sunday.
Have they figured it out?
Evidence is accumulating that, once again, David Ortiz is about to squash all speculation around being at the end of his career. In the first nine games of the month, the Sox scored only 28 runs, or just over three runs a game. Then, on June 11, Ortiz hit a home run off Orioles reliever Chaz Roe, ending a streak of 17 games without a home run. This is not the first time he has had a streak like that, having had home run droughts of 24 and 19 games.
Since June 11, the Sox have scored 66 runs in 11 games, an average of six runs per game. They've posted a slash line of .305/.358/.517/.876 with 50 extra-base hits, and have recorded 10 or more hits in six of 11 games.
Ortiz has homered four times in that span, including his 10th of the year, making it 16 straight seasons of double-digit home runs for the 39-year-old slugger. His slash line is .324/.444/.649/1.093 in that span -- by far his best stretch of the season -- and he leads the club in home runs and RBIs (10) over that time frame.
Yet Ortiz is not the only issue that needed to change for the Red Sox to get rolling.
Five Sox players since that date are hitting .300 or better, led by Mookie Betts, who is batting .556 in that span and on Monday was named the American League's Player of the Week. The others are Pablo Sandoval (.429), Blake Swihart (.360) and Brock Holt (.356), with Betts and Holt forming a dynamic combination at the top of the order now that Betts has been restored to the leadoff spot.
Pitching will have to put in some work to keep the Red Sox in games, with Eduardo Rodriguez being a shinning example of the possibilities when all the cylinders are firing in the starting rotation.
Yet for all the recent positive developments around the Red Sox, they still have not won as many as three games in a row since the first week of the season. At 31-40, they remain nine games under .500, and in order to win 90 games, to contend for postseason, the Red Sox would have to go 59-31 the rest of the way, a .656 percentage.
There remains a few glaring problems in their performance to date.
- Red Sox have the worst record in the American League against teams with a record of .500 or better (22-36).
- Red Sox are the only team in the AL East with a losing record in intramural play (10-21).
- The Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are all bunched within three games of the division lead while the Sox are eight and half games back.
The next 10 games are a crucial measuring stick, one we need to evaluate the Red Sox with, to see if they are poised to bounce back or just teasing us with a flash of what could have been in the 2015 season.
Post a comment or via twitter @erics_redsox with your thoughts.
More by Eric D. Schabell