Sweeping an inter-league opponent defines Red Sox as contenders
There’s an old saying that goes, ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish’. Granted, we’re a long way away from the finish line. I get it. The calendar hasn’t even flipped to May yet, but the Boston Red Sox finds themselves with a 16-9 record and protecting a three-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. The Red Sox are turning heads and changing some of the doubters in the region into believers.
It’s not the fact that the Red Sox are winning games, it’s how they’re doing it. We saw this team dwindle to an 0-3 start, followed by a 9-game winning streak while showcasing a virtually unbeatable offense; and now that the bats have come back to earth, the pitching has dialed it up a notch, allowing just one run in two games against the Mets.
Plus, Boston has rattled off six wins in six games against some of the top favorites to win the Cy Young award. They did it last night against the National League favorite, Jacob deGrom.
Good pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting have been the name of the game for Boston, at least over the course of the last week.
They’ve won four games by two runs or less since last Thursday, and each by one the past couple nights in New York against the Mets, which arguably have been two of the most impressive wins of the season.
What stands out as the main story lines in the pair of games in New York is the fact that it was the middle of the rotation guys who were up to the task. This wasn’t E-Rod or Eovaldi who shut it down out there. It was Garrett Richards and Nick Pivetta who combined to allow just 8 hits, 1 earned run, and racked up 17 K’s. Two names that Chaim Bloom put his trust in to help bolster what once was a disastrous rotation just a year ago.
If the two of them can pitch like that consistently? Look out. Oh, and Chris Sale is planning to make a return at some point this summer, too.
In case the roster still doesn’t pass the eye test for you, and for some fans it doesn’t. Which is understandable, because it’s not like this roster features one of the faces of the sport. But what they do have is a bunch of guys who have bought in and are playing well together.
Try this on for size: Boston has five regulars hitting above .290, five regulars with at least three home runs, and four with double-digit RBI.
I know what you’re thinking. Well, this was a solid offense last season, too. We knew what we were getting. Fine, I propose to you this.
The Red Sox currently sit top-five in the league as a club in BA, R, H, 2B, TB, OBP, SLG%, and OPS.
The real cliffhanger entering the season was the pitching. After an abysmal 2020 season, there wasn’t much faith in the arms Boston brought into Opening day being able to last the full year. How have they fared thus far?
Seven members of the staff currently boast an ERA sub-3.80. As a club, Boston is 9th in the majors in team ERA (3.66).
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In case all of that wasn’t convincing enough, the Red Sox are currently tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball at 16-9.
Not for nothing, but remember that guy Mookie Betts? He hit .250 with 2 homers and 5 RBI in April. The main piece that Boston got in return for him, Alex Verdugo? He hit .313 and tallied 3 home runs and 13 RBI’s.
Typically, a good rule of thumb is if a team is playing well by Memorial Day, they’re usually legit. We’re a month away from that date, May 31. Boston plays just two teams that are currently above .500 in the entire month of May.
Are they for real? That’s up to you. The stats speak for themselves, and the Red Sox certainly have the look and the makeup of a contender.
One thing is for sure though, Boston will definitely be a tough out come October if they keep playing like they did this week in the ‘Big Apple’.