Even the most pinkish of hats could not have been this optimistic entering the season. The Boston Red Sox have the best record in all of baseball at 50-34. The Sox sit atop first place in the American League East by 3 games over the Baltimore Orioles.
At this time last season the Bobby Valentine led Sox were 38-35. We know how they finished.
The 2013 Red Sox got off to a hot start, going 18-8 in April. The Sox then went .500 in May at 15-15 and the whispers started. But a 17-11 June against tough opponents has certainly quieted the cynics.
There’s never a shortage of drama when it comes to the Olde Towne Team. Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly for the month of June.
The Good:Jose Iglesias was called up on May 24 and eventually forced his way into the Red Sox everyday lineup in June. For the month, Iglesias hit .412 with a home run, six runs batted in, 17 runs scored and 3465 highlight worthy plays with the glove. Iglesias has played so well that Will Middlebrooks was sent back to Pawtucket for more “seasoning”. According to celebrity chef Paula Deen there's nothing worse than an underseasoned Middlebrooks. I can think of something worse, Paula.
Jacoby Ellsbury was hitting .259 entering June. Over the past month Ellsbury hit .361 to raise his average to .296 on the year. The power may not be there, but Ellsbury led the team in runs (20), hits (35), doubles (8), triples (2) and stolen bases (11). This is the Ellsbury the Red Sox were counting on. This is also the Ellsbury agent Scott Boras was counting on. Scott needs a solid gold swimming pool on his submarine.
Koji Uehara wrestled the closing job away from Andrew Bailey. Not so much wrestled it away as more like Bailey gave it. Literally. We’ll get to Bailey in the “ugly” bit, for now let’s stay positive. *insert unicorns and rainbows here* Koji-san picked up three saves to go along with 19 strikeouts in 12 innings. Despite the slight hiccup Sunday against the Blue Jays, Uehara remains the best option to close out games the rest of the way.
The bad:Jon Lester struggled in June. Lester went 2-3 with a 7.27 ERA. It’s been a Jekyll and Hyde season thus far for the Red Sox expected ace. He started the year 6-0 and there was talk of “All-Star games” and “Cy Young Award’s”. Since that time, there has been talk of “loss in velocity”, “command problems,” and “reminds me of Beckett”.
Will Middlebrooks just never got it going this season. Take out his three homer game against the Blue Jays back in April and you’re looking at six home runs, 20 RBI and a .192 batting average. There is still plenty of season left for Middlebrooks to get back on track, but he has not been even close to the middle of the order bat the Red Sox were counting on this year. File under: biggest disappointment.
The Ugly: Hello, Andrew Bailey. Thanks for inspiring the new Red Sox Life term, “closerpocalypse”. In the month of June, Bailey blew four saves, had a loss and an ERA of 10.13. If the recent trend continues, and all indications point that it will, look for the Red Sox to be in the buying mood for bullpen help at this month’s trade deadline.
The injury bug has been an ugly part of the Red Sox season thus far. In June the Red Sox lost Clay Buchholz (neck), David Ross (concussion), Stephen Drew (hamstring), Middlebrooks (back) and Shane Victorino (back, leg). The biggest blow of course is Buchholz. Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA before the injury. For the Sox to remain on top they need a healthy and effective Clay Buchholz.
It’s going to be exciting from here on out Sox fans. Expect some moves at the trade deadline. I’d expect the Red Sox to add at least one bullpen arm and maybe another veteran bench bat. If all goes as according to plan, the Red Sox project to finish the season at 93-69. The exact inverse of last years 69-93 team.
What are your thoughts on this year’s Red Sox team? Leave a comment below.