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Sunday, July 20, 2014

So It Looks Like This Red Sox Season Will Be Much More Interesting Than We Thought

Listen, we all figured that the Red Sox were toast a long time ago so there's no need to lie and say any sane person that we know felt otherwise. Still, I'm happy to report that Boston (46-52 overall, 26-26 at home) is finally playing some good baseball in 2014 (it only took them nearly 100 games!) as they blanked Kansas City (48-49 overall, 26-24 away) 6-0 this afternoon at Fenway Park for the three-game sweep.

The Red Sox have won seven of their last eight games to climb within six games in the Wild Card and 7.5 in the AL East. Jon Lester (10-7) continued to consistently perform like one of the top pitchers in MLB: eight innings, four hits, eight strikeouts and two walks as he lowered his ERA to 2.50. The only reason he didn't stay in for the shutout was that he threw 115 pitches. At this point, he is a serious Cy Young contender and with each outstanding start, his already hefty price tag continues to go up. If only he had accepted Boston's joke offer (4 years, $70 in spring training)!

There aren't many things you can count on in life anymore or at least you realize that when you grow up, however Kansas City never ceases to fall apart in the middle/dog days of the season. Seriously, will they ever truly be relevant again on a national level? Young fireballer Yordano Ventura (7-8) was no match for Lester's brilliance as he allowed six earned runs on nine hits in only 4.1 innings.

The Red Sox took the lead in the first inning as Dustin Pedroia's fielder's choice scored Brock Holt (2 for 5). Daniel Nava's (2 for 3, walk) ground-rule double knocked in David Ross (2 runs, walk) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (2 for 3, 2 runs, walk) in the third inning. David Ross' two-run homer in the fourth went over the Monster, his sixth of the season, and it also drove in Shane Victorino (2 for 4, double). Boston added the final insurance run a few batters later as Nava plated Bradley Jr. with a sacrifice fly.

The next two weeks represent Boston's best chance to really get back into those respective races that I mentioned. You see, they have 13 games in a row against AL East opponents: they go to Toronto for four games then Tampa Bay for three. The Red Sox return home to face the Blue Jays three more times then they host the Yankees in three games right after the Trade Deadline (July 31).

Toronto (51-48 overall, 3rd in AL East) is only 4-6 in their last 10 games but they've won their last two (vs. hapless Texas) heading into this critical series vs. Boston. Other than no Lester, the Red Sox' pitching lines up pretty well against the Blue Jays who still don't have an ace or No. 2 if we're being honest. John Lackey (10-6) faces Drew Hutchison (6-8) on Monday night (7:07, NESN) followed by Jake Peavy (1-8) vs. J.A. Happ (7-5) on Tuesday (7:07, NESN). Clay Buchholz (5-5) takes on knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (7-10) on Wednesday (7:07, NESN) then they wrap up on Thursday afternoon (12:37, NESN) with Rubby De La Rosa (3-2) facing fellow rookie Marcus Stroman (5-2).

I'm certainly not predicting it will happen but I'd like to note before the series begins that if Boston could sweep Toronto, they would be tied in the loss column. Something to keep in mind as the series progresses if the Red Sox win the first two or three games.

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