The speed at the top of the order, the ability to keep pitchers on their toes and the different looks is what makes the duo of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford a must-see option for the Boston Red Sox lineup going forward.
Ellsbury and Crawford both missed a good part of the 2012 season with injuries that looked pretty bad to begin with. But it has seemed to work in the Red Sox favor in the first week or so since the returns into the lineup.
For example, on Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox, Ellsbury led off with a single and then stole second base to get into scoring position in the first inning. Crawford followed with a base hit that scored the center fielder before stealing his first of three stolen bases of the evening. He was then driven home by Adrian Gonzalez.
If Crawford and Ellsbury can create havoc like this on the bases all night long, then the Red Sox offense will be even better than it was in the first half. This is a scary thought for the rest of the AL, because the Red Sox were second in the league in runs scored before the return of the two speedsters.
Pitchers also seem to lose focus when either runners on the basepaths.
On Thursday night, when the Red Sox walked-off on a Cody Ross three-run homer, the pitchers seemed preoccupied with Crawford on first base. They would throw over to try and pick him off multiple times to the next couple of batters. This gave the batters at the plate better pitches to hit in the ninth inning.
With a healthy speed combo at the top of the lineup, the Red Sox are poised and ready for a playoff run. Hopefully, the starters settle down into the pitchers that they can be because this lineup is now more potent than ever.