The Sox are a playoff team, and they looked like it today
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Conor Frederick (@C_Frederick1016)
The Red Sox have had their ups and downs this season, to say the least. First, their pitching was terrible while their offense seemed to thrive. In the past couple of weeks, it seems like the reverse has been the case - the pitching has been solid while the offense lagged. According to Bleacher Report, the Red Sox have a 3.29 ERA since May 10th (not including today):
"We knew we needed good pitching coming into the year to win games," Boston general manager Ben Cherington said via Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald back on May 12. "I believe we'll pitch better, and I believe we have a lot of the solutions here already."
That seemed like a brash statement at the time, but sure enough the Sox pitching did turn it around. Through May 21 games, the Boston starting rotation had a 3.29 ERA since May 10. The quartet of Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Joe Kelly have all improved significantly over the course of a month, and they should be able to be at least a decent rotation for the remainder of the season.
In the past couple of weeks, the pitching has been suffering "Lackey-itis," or lack of run support (so called because John Lackey had a hard time with run support in 2013 and 14, despite strong outings). The Red Sox have scored 2 or fewer runs in 13 of 19 games before today's game according to Bleacher Report, which has to be frustrating for the pitching staff, which has been improving.
For the most part, the offense has hit some balls hard, but they haven't been getting the bounces. As a fan, it's been frustrating to watch, but the players have mixed feelings according to Bleacher Report:
"There's no frustration," Mike Napoli told Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. "We're hitting balls hard. You can't control where the ball goes."
John Farrell echoed a similar tune. "There were a number of times we squared the ball up and someone's running it down in the gap or someone's right there," the Boston manager said via Britton. "We're getting a number of good at-bats, but the ball's not falling right now. You can't steer it after you hit it."
David Ortiz, the veteran DH and the team leader, was a little more blunt about the whole topic.
"It's getting ridiculous," Ortiz said via Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. "We've been seeing that stuff all season. Our pitching has been outstanding lately. But even when we put a good swing on the ball, you see what happens. Not good."
I like Napoli's optimism, but before today, I was leaning towards the David Ortiz end of the spectrum, but Napoli's optimism clearly worked for him today (a home run and 4 RBI's).
And after the Sox seemed to put everything together today (finally), I'm definitely feeling more optimistic about their chances to make a postseason push. Today, they put it all together for the what seems like the first time all season, and it's a good sign. On paper, the Red Sox have the talent to put together a postseason run, but today was the first case of them putting everything together. The Red Sox currently sit at 21-23, 2.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays (24-21), so they're still within striking distance of the division. And the AL East isn't necessarily the cream of the crop this year, so the Red Sox definitely could make a run. Provided, of course, the Sox can play like they did today on a consistent basis.