After Boston's 11-9 loss to New York, people were writing off the Sox. All the pink-hats were bailing, trying to sell off their tickets because Boston has the audacity to not be in first place. Sports pundits were talking about who the Sox should trade for prospects. All before two months of the season were finished.
Since then the Sox have won five of six, including two of three in Philadelphia. The latest win was yesterday afternoon, an 8-3 whipping of the Phillies and Roy Halladay. The final score makes it sound closer than it really was. Tim Wakefield picked up his first win in nine starts, going eight shutout innings and allowing just five hits. He walked just two batters and threw about 67% of his pitches for strikes. I'm liking Wakes in the rotation right now, although once Beckett comes back it'll likely be Tim going back to the bullpen. Hard to see Daisuke going in there, especially with his near no-hitter on Saturday night.
Again, an important part of these games was the relative non-use of the bullpen. In the last two games, the Sox used just two pitchers for two innings of work. This puts them in a good place heading into a critical three-game set in Tampa. Another piece of good news is that Boston has gotten solid pitching from four of their five starters in their last go-through. And when the starting pitching is working, everything else falls into place.
It also helps to have some solid hitting, and the Sox have been getting that as well. Boston beat down Roy Halladay Sunday, scoring seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in 5.2 innings. The most damage was done in the meat of the order. Youk went 2-4 with three runs scored and one RBI courtesy of his ninth homer of the season. Youk also saw 27 pitches in five trips to the plate, a ridiculous number of pitches. In his last seven games, Youk is hitting .409 with a monster 1.364 OPS.
Really, the only downside to today's game was Ramon Ramirez allowing three runs in the ninth inning. But that's pretty much why he was allowed to pitch the ninth. You aren't putting Ramirez on the mound with the game on the line.
With the win the Sox are three games over .500 at 24-21 on the season, three games off the pace from last year. They've also finally pushed themselves into a positive run differential, scoring 233 and allowing 230. But there is a long way to go. Even with this recent string of winning, the Sox are 8.5 back of the Rays and still need to make up 1.5 wins on the Jays just to reach third place. But to look at that and decide that the season is over or that Boston is finished...if your love for the team is that weak, then go pick another bandwagon. The Sox could use a few less pink hats in the stands.