You wouldn't know it by listening to a certain Sports Radio station in this town, but the Red Sox have quietly had a nice little four game stretch entering Tuesday. It started on Friday night against the Tigers when the team had a come from behind victory highlighted by Jackie Bradley Jr.'s MAGESTIC two run homer. Saturday night saw the offense erupt late to ensure a win in a Chris Sale start (have to keep winning those). We lost Sunday, but bounced back last night against the Phillies to win in 11 innings on a Dustin Pedroia walk off single, overcoming a 4-0 deficit from the first inning. The Sox now have five wins after trailing in the 7th inning or later, which is the most in baseball right now.
Moving forward the Sox have three more games this week against the Phillies, who are the worst team in baseball, followed by a daunting three game set in Houston. The Astros currently have the best record in the majors, and a ridiculous 12 game lead in their division. Facing them over Father's Day Weekend will be a huge test for us. Now let's get into the biggest stories currently surrounding the local nine:
--I am sick of people saying this team sucks. Currently we are 35-28 with the THIRD BEST RECORD IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE. So why are people saying we're underperforming? Well, certain players on this team have been underperforming. You go player by player and the situation looks a lot worse than it is. Porcello has sucked. Price got shelled last time out. Sale hasn't been dominant lately. Eduardo is hurt. Xander can't hit for power. Mookie isn't as good as last year. Hanley is probably playing hurt. Everyone in the bullpen not named Kimbrel sucks. Third base sucks. Here's the thing though...all those things are somewhat true, and we still have the third best record in the AL! Maybe we aren't great. Maybe we don't have the super rotation we thought we were going to. But we're still good. Not being elite doesn't make you bad. There's nothing wrong with simply being good. We're flawed, but so is every team in our league besides the Astros.
--Furthermore, we are playing in one of the most stacked divisions I've ever seen. There's a real chance the entire AL East finishes at or above .500 come the end of September. This would be the first division to do so since the 2005 National League East. Depending on how you view Cleveland, the AL East might have the three best teams in our league after Houston. The Blue Jays started horribly but have been red hot as of late, the Rays are quietly hanging around, the Orioles are slipping but are still dangerous, and the Yankees appear legit. This division is going to end up being a six month slugfest. Buckle up.
--Alright, enough ranting. Just had to get that off my chest. Now let's talk about Rick Porcello. I was optimistic entering last night. Pitching at home against the worst team in baseball. Aaaaaand he let up a four spot in the first inning. He settled down after that, allowing just one more run over the next five innings, but the final stat line obviously left a lot to be desired. Porcello is now 3-8 with a 4.67 ERA, which is much closer to his 4.92 mark in 2015 than it is to his 3.15 mark from a season ago. Porcello's 1.51 WHIP is also the second highest of his career. Not good. On the bright side? His .366 BABIP is well above his career .311 mark, which means he might be getting unlucky. Also his 8.5 K/9 is the best of his career, so it's not as if he lost his "stuff". I don't know, though. Maybe he's pitching hurt. That would at least explain the struggles, but our farm system doesn't currently have anyone good to replace him, so unless things get really bad our best bet is to keep rolling him out there and hope he turns it around. His next start is this weekend in Houston. Yikes.
--If you could guarantee one player on this team to avoid injury all year, who would it be? Sale is the obvious name that first comes to mind, and if I really looked into things he's probably the answer. But I just want to point out how invaluable Craig Kimbrel has become to this team. Not only has he been a dominant closer this year, but he's routinely coming into games in the eighth inning now, getting four (and sometimes five) out saves. He's pitching well in tie games. He's doing everything. Joe Kelly has somehow been our next best reliever, but I wouldn't trust him at closer if Kimbrel went down. Besides that the rest of the pen has been...not great. We're likely leaning on Kimbrel too much right now, but we don't really have another option. In Kimbrel we trust.