They almost made it an easy decision.
The Red Sox had lost seven of eight, and it appeared we finally had our answer: they would be sellers at this years trade deadline.
Then Ben Cherington sent A.J. Pierzynski packing and, whether coincidence or not, the Sox won four of their last five heading into the All-Star break, keeping them within single digits of the division leading Orioles at 9.5 games back.
So now what?
We should get our answer fairly quickly after the break. There are 13 games to be played before the trade deadline. They’ll either prove that they can climb back in the race or show that it’s time to look toward next season.
The schedule plays out like this: three games at home versus the Royals, four in Toronto, three in Tampa and finally another three at home with the Blue Jays.
This schedule presents a unique opportunity for the Sox: show that you can win some games while simultaneously gaining ground in the division by beating divisional opponents.
Given the Orioles schedule post-break, it’s not out of the realm of possibility someone else could take over the AL East. In the same span as the four Red Sox’ series, the O’s head to the west coast for three with the A’s, three with the Angels, four with the Mariners and another three at home with the Angels (this is followed by another series with the Mariners and soon after, the Cardinals). Two weeks of the Orioles playing three of the top four teams in the AL is the perfect scenario for the Red Sox.
A few wins won’t cut it. But if the Sox can come out and sweep a series or two, especially against the Blue Jays, they could find themselves right back in the race.
So, again, we wait. It’s now a 13 game season. All hope is not yet lost.