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Friday, July 11, 2014

I Can't Believe That I'm Saying This But Did We Count Out the Red Sox Too Soon?

Let's be honest: it would take one hell of a turnaround for the Red Sox to push for a Wild Card spot let alone compete in the upside down AL East. Still, the last few days have been a revelation in terms of showing us that maybe there is a reason to tune in and hope for the improbable for the rest of 2014.

Boston (42-51 overall, 19-25 away) won their third straight game as they opened the final series before the All-Star break with an 8-3 win at Houston's (39-55 overall, 20-27 home) Minute Maid Park. The Red Sox had 12 hits and led 8-1 in the sixth inning en route to a very rare laugher (in a good way). They are within eight games of the second Wild Card spot and 9.5 behind first-place Baltimore.

Pitching in his home state, John Lackey (10-6) became the first Red Sox pitcher to reach double digit wins this season. His usual pinpoint control was off (3 strikeouts/5 walks) but he still lasted six innings and only allowed two earned runs on four hits.

For once, Boston built an early lead and proceeded to increase it over the next few innings just like a good team. Brock Holt (2 for 4, double, 2 runs, walk) had an RBI triple in the third and Dustin Pedroia followed with an RBI double for the 2-0 advantage. Rookie catcher Christian Vazquez had quite a memorable night: recording his first MLB hit, extra base hit and RBI. He added an RBI double in the fourth as the Red Sox went up 3-0 on the hapless Astros.

Enrique Hernandez's RBI single cut it to 3-1 in the fourth but Scott Feldman (4-6) couldn't keep it even that close as he was charged with seven earned runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings. Vazquez notched a two-run double in the sixth and David Ortiz greeted lefty Darin Downs with a bases clearing double that put this in the win column for the Red Sox.

Chris Carter went over .200 and boosted his stats with a pair of garbage time solo homers in the sixth and eighth (his 18th and 19th of the season). Houston finished 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and they left 10 men on base. Daniel Nava and Jackie Bradley Jr. each collected two singles and scored a run in the victory.

Assuming that he's not traded before first pitch (4:10, NESN)-a very real possibility-Jake Peavy (1-7) will take the mound tomorrow vs. Brett Oberholtzer (2-7). As you can tell by their records, this is unlikely to be a pitcher's duel but rather a battle of bullpens and a long game so stock up on some adult beverages to get through it comfortably.

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