6 Reasons the Boston Red Sox Can Save Their Season
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With 46 games left in the season, the Boston Red Sox have a better chance than ever to make the playoffs. Critics and fans may not think so, but the Red Sox players and their managerial staff, especially Bobby Valentine, certainly do.
Valentine stated on the Dale and Holly show on WEEI, "I think we're a playoff team and I think we're going to be there before this season's over." When asked if the team could reach 89 wins, the agreed upon standard of most playoff teams, Valentine responded with "Of course. We can do better than that."
To be confident is one thing. But to be confident and idiotic is a lethal pair. Fortunately for Valentine and the Red Sox, while they continue to tread water, the team has not yet drowned. A few solid hot streaks and the Red Sox, who lie 5.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles in the wild-card race, can shock the country.
The St. Louis Cardinals did it last year, winning 23 of their final 31 games to erase a 10.5 game Atlanta Braves division lead, on their way to winning the World Series.
The Red Sox completed the opposite feat in 2011, collapsing to blow a nine-game wild-card lead over the Rays to miss the postseason.
Here's to hoping history refuses to repeat itself.
Click on, believer.
Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford
Crawford and Gonzalez
These two have found the pop in their bats.
In Sunday's rout over the Cleveland Indians 14-1, Adrian Gonzalez went 2 for 3 with a home run, a double and four RBIs, while Carl Crawford smacked three doubles and collected three RBIs.
Gonzalez has been on an absolutely torrid pace since the All-Star break. The first baseman is hitting .393 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs, more than any other player since the break. His hot streak has continued strong into August where he is sporting a .422 average with 18 RBIs and a whopping 1.290 OPS.
Gonzalez's seven home runs since the break are more than he had the entire first half of the season, when he hit six dingers.
A disappointment last season, Crawford has swung the bat very well since his return to the lineup. Despite an injured left wrist and probable Tommy John surgery on his left elbow after the season, Crawford is batting .280 with three home runs and 16 RBIs post-All Star break. He is hitting .313 in August and has collected 12 of his RBIs this month.
Gonzalez and Crawford should remain at the top of the lineup for the remainder of the season as the Red Sox seek to support their weak pitching staff with many runs.
If it's any indicator that this team has not given up on the season yet, it is the fact that Crawford is still in the lineup daily. With most of his $142 million contract left, the Red Sox would not be taking their chances with him if they did not believe they could make the playoffs.
Jon Lester's Resurgence
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After remaining winless since June 27, Jon Lester won his sixth game of the season against the Indians on Sunday. He went six strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out 12 batters. The Jon Lester that took the mound on Sunday was in the form of the pitcher that recorded the highest winning percentage among major league pitchers entering the 2012 season at .691 (76-34).
An outing like this, in addition to the offensive onslaught, can really turn on the jets for this Red Sox team.
There was nothing but praise for Lester after the game. Manager Bobby Valentine stated, "To pitch well and get a win is something that could get him on a roll. That’s what we need," via The Boston Globe.
Clubhouse leader, Dustin Pedroia, remarked on the pure joy it was to see Lester return to form. "Now that was Jon Lester. It was fun to see him pitch like that again." And Gonzalez emphasized the same in the hope that the team can follow up this performance, "It was awesome, it was great. We haven’t been giving [Lester] the support he needs. Today was a good one. Hopefully we continue to do it.”
Lester's confidence was apparent and his pitches were finding the corners or causing batters to swing and miss. With a fearless Lester, the sky is the limit.
Return of David Ortiz and Andrew Bailey
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After losing Will Middlebrooks for the season, the return of David Ortiz is greatly anticipated.
Ortiz was batting .316 with 23 home runs and 58 RBIs when he hit the disabled list on July 17 with a strained right Achilles' tendon. Ortiz was scheduled to return to the lineup this past weekend against the Cleveland Indians, but the nagging soreness has kept him on the bench.
With Big Papi's return to the lineup, the Red Sox will have their five best hitters all healthy together for the first time this season. A leading five of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and David Ortiz will be deadly and prove a formidable opponent to any starting pitcher.
Also returning from the disabled list will be closer Andrew Bailey, who the Red Sox traded for in the offseason by shipping off breakout star Josh Reddick and two prospects to Oakland.
Bailey has pitched well in Triple A Pawtucket, throwing 6.1 innings allowing one run on six hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk. He will be a welcome addition to the Red Sox bullpen, which had been a positive element on the season but has allowed 18 runs on 31 hits in 27 innings this month.
By inserting Bailey into the closer role, Alfredo Aceves or Andrew Miller can take on the setup man position, which was held by Vincente Padilla before his trip to the disabled list, and the bullpen has the potential to flourish once again.
An Unexpected Spark
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Scott Podsednik is back in a Red Sox uniform less than two weeks after being traded to the Arizona Diamonbacks.
While he can't expect a whole lot of playing time with Ellsbury, Crawford, Cody Ross and others on the roster, Podsednik could provide a much needed spark off the bench down the stretch.
In 26 games with the Red Sox earlier this season, he batted .373 while scoring nine runs and stealing six bases.
Podsednik is definitely an upgrade over Ryan Kalish, who has bounced back and forth between Triple A Pawtucket and the majors all season.
Also, as absurd as it sounds, another viable addition could be Johnny Damon, who was released by the Indians late last week. The self-proclaimed leader of the "idiots" during the 2004 Red Sox World Series champion run, Damon could bring that glimmer of hope back to Boston.
While it is highly unlikely, especially after the pick up of Podsednik, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Snag Someone off Waivers
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The trade deadline may be over, but the waiver wire will remain open until August 31. This leaves plenty of time for the Red Sox to add another reliable arm to their starting rotation, a dependable reliever to the bullpen, or one last puzzle piece to their lineup.
Douglas Sibor of our very own Bleacher Report listed 10 waiver acquisitions that could bolster the Red Sox roster and catapult them to the playoffs. Many fans expected a big move, either buying or selling at the trade deadline, but the Red Sox stayed put, making only a minor deal for left-handed reliever Craig Breslow.
Highlights from the article include Jair Jurrjens, who, despite his horrid numbers this season (3-4, 6.89 ERA), would be a low-risk option who could benefit from a change of scenery; Bronson Arroyo, a fan favorite during his time in Boston; Randy Wolf, another low-risk addition at a low price; and Roy Oswalt, who was pursued heavily by the Red Sox before settling with the Texas Rangers.
If the Red Sox do make a move on the waiver wire, it should be with a starting pitcher. This is the obvious weak spot for the Sox, and while Middlebrooks will be missed at third base, Pedro Ciriaco, Nick Punto, and Danny Valencia should be able to fill the void.
Have a Little Faith
Will Middlebrooks, Cody Ross and Dustin Pedroia
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Aren't Red Sox fans all too familiar with being discouraged?
Remember when the Red Sox hadn't won a World Series in 86 years? Remember that magical 2004 season, when the Sox were down three game to none against the Evil Empire in the ALCS and came back to win the series? That was even after losing a gut-wrenching game 3, 19-8.
Why can't this year become another chapter in the epic saga of the Boston Red Sox organization?
If this team keeps the faith and begins to produce consistently, the fans will follow suit. It would be nice to see the owners do the same, much like Larry Lucchino did midway through the season with his letter to season ticket holders.
There is still a lot of baseball to be played and much hope to be restored. With the recent passing of Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky on Monday, maybe the team can harness his love for the game and the Boston Red Sox and churn out some wins.
This team has resilience. They just have to believe in themselves and they can do anything.