With Boston's 3-2 win over the Jays on Sunday, the Sox reached the halfway point of the 2010 season. Last year, the Sox were in first with a 54-34 record. This year, they are five back of the Yankees with a 51-37 record. So despite all the injuries and the massive slumps, Boston is just three games off last year's pace. The larger problem is that the Yankees are playing better. And let's all thank the man above that Texas swooped in for Lee at the last second.
This wasn't the best of road trips; getting swept in Tampa was a major blow but the kind of event the Sox were vulnerable to considering their overwhelming amount of injuries. To have them take two of three in Toronto was heartening. These are the games they should win and they did.
Matsuzaka looked good last night. Which is encouraging and maddening at the same time. When he has a quality start like this and adds to it by walking no batters, you see the talent he brings to the mound. But he is so inconsistent in showing it; you never know if you are going to get the good Daisuke or the one who gave up five runs and eight hitting in five innings in Tampa. There is something to be said for consistency. At least you knew Jeff Suppan was going to disappoint you every time he took the mound.
David Ortiz continues to defy the idea he is washed up. The recent focus of Ben McGrath's most recent piece in last week's New Yorker, Ortiz hit his 18th homer of 2010 last night and it proved to be the winning run for the Sox. Right now, Ortiz is projecting for 36 homers and 114 RBI on the year. I don't know if that will happen...betting against Ortiz has proven to be a sucker's bet this year. But he could easily hit 30 and 100, and who would be disappointed with those numbers? Still, I don't know if Boston brings him back. And if they did, it would be for less than he made this year.
Another bright spot for the Sox has been the continuing maturation of Daniel Bard. His 19 holds lead the AL. He hasn't allowed an earned run since June 10 and has lowered his ERA to 1.90. He looked great last night, going two innings and allowing just one hit. Even with Paps getting his 20th save last night, expect the "Make Bard the closer" talk to continue on the airwaves.
The All-Star break is a most welcome respite for the Sox right now. Banged up and exhausted, this three-day stretch will go a long way to helping guys get their health back. But it's also worth keeping in mind that, for all their troubles so far in 2010, the Sox are not far behind where they were in 2009. They are still in the AL East hunt. And when they get back guys like Pedroia, Martinez and Beckett (who looked good in a four-inning rehab stint in the Bucket yesterday), Boston will be in great shape to make a final run for the post-season.