Sure, it’s only two and half weeks into the regular season but the Red Sox’ unexpected hot start has more than a few heads turning – and not just in New England. Let’s take a look at the some of the reasons why things are going so well for the Old Towne Team to date.
Win Every Series
Boston has lost only one season series to date, that against the Baltimore Orioles. All other comers – the Yankees, Blues Jays, Rays and now the Indians – have been on the crap end of the stick when playing against the Sox in April.
2013 Isn’t 2012
With Wednesday’s win the Red Sox became only the second team in the American League, behind the Oakland As, to win 10 games. At no time during the 2012 season were the Red Sox six games over .500. Never. They’ve done this without their mashing DH David Ortiz and their spring training hot-hitting rookie, Jackie Bradley Jr., who went flat as soon as the regular season began and left field went into scramble mode.
Pitching, Pitching, Pitching
The one, two punch of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz atop the Sox starting pitching rotation has set the pace. Buchholz’ 0.41 ERA is third best in the majors and has earned him a 3-0 mark. Lester is 12th in the bigs in ERA at a still puny 1.42 ERA and is 2-0. Even when Boston gets so-so starting pitching that could get them on the ropes, as happened with Alfredo Aceves Wednesday night when he gave up three runs in the sixth, they’re getting plenty of the run support and winning.
Boston’s bullpen, with the exception of the closer role, has been a terror on AL hitters in April. Their ERA is 12th best in the majors but has been seriously skewed by Joel Hanrahan‘s obscene 11.57 ERA. The rest of Boston’s three primary relievers – Koji Uehara – 0.00, Junichi Tazawa – 1.13 and Andrew Bailey – 1.42 – have been as stingy as they get. Against the Indians Wednesday night the bullpen retired 12 in a row and struck out eight en route to the 6-3 win over the Tribe.
There’s no stat for this but it’s clear these guys like one another, respect their manager and are having fun. Ben Cherington is starting to look more and more like an off-season genius by bringing in strong role players and clubhouse guys like Shane Victorino (.333, 9 runs scored), Mike Napoli (.250, 7 doubles, 16 RBI) and Jonny Gomes (OK, so Gomes has been good in the clubhouse).
So What’s It All Mean?
In the overall scheme of an entire season, Boston’s hot start doesn’t mean that much. The team has another 148 games to go. Many will use the traditional yardstick of the All-Star break to measure how excited they’re going to get. When, however, framed in the context of the past two years and recent events in Boston, their fifth win in a row and return to Boston Friday for a long home stand means everything.
If you must have the fear and loathing creep in do it on your own time. For this brief moment, I’m enjoying the ride.