Explosive Series Sets Tone for Red Sox at Break
When the Red Sox began a 4-game set with the Baltimore Orioles at home on Thursday, most believed it would be a nice easy way to end the 1st half of the 2011 season. Those predictions could not have been more wrong. This 4-game set was filled with drama and brawls, setting the tone for the rest of the season for the Red Sox. The Red Sox played as a team and supported each other, which builds the chemistry and creates a championship type atmosphere in the club house. That scrappy intensity from David Ortiz adds to the fire he has been displaying in the batter’s box this season, something that has been missing over the past few years. This team showed this weekend that they are not going to settle for anything less than a championship. How you ask? Read on.
Some of you are reading this thinking, “Are you kidding me? It was the bleeping Orioles.” I get where you are coming from, the Orioles have been awful these past several weeks, rapidly securing their place in the sub-basement of the AL East, but that is what makes this so great and important. It doesn’t matter if the Sox are playing the best team in baseball or the worst team in baseball, they want to win; for the city of Boston, their fan base, and most importantly, each other. The chemistry that is growing as the year progresses looks very similar to that of the 2007 team. They are composed and talented, but will go that extra little bit to come out on top, regardless of the deficit. This team is focused on solid team play and how each person can play their role in order to get a victory each night.
On Sunday, the team rallied together after Kyle Weiland had a rough 2nd inning (6 earned runs) in his major league debut and scored 4 runs to tie the game for the young righty. You could see that this team wanted to rally behind Weiland and they came out and erased his deficit. Baseball is a team sport, but too often the focus is on individual records or stats. They are important to a degree and should be acknowledged (like Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit for example), but the whole has to be greater than the sum of its parts in order to win the World Series. No exceptions. This club is really beginning to look like a cohesive unit on the field and if they continue to have that faith in each other and the confidence to come back from any hole, they will be a scary team to face in October.
For Red Sox fans, it’s hard not to be happy with a 55-35 record at the break, especially after the 0-6 start to the season. Injuries have become a concern as of late, but sitting 1 game up on the Yankees in 1st place in the AL East eases some of that pain. The Red Sox have cleared Josh Beckett after a hyper-extended knee issue last week and Carl Crawford appears to be just a short rehab assignment away from his return to Boston. The depth in the organization can keep this team winning in the short-term until some others return, then the real push for the post-season can commence in late August and September with hopefully a healthy lineup and rotation.
Most championship teams have a turning point in their season. No one knows yet, but this weekend’s series felt like a momentum changer for the Red Sox. It’s no Alex Rodriguez vs. Jason Varitek, but it is not a scrum that will be soon forgotten. Kevin Gregg may have just poked the bear.
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