What was cooler for Red Sox fans to see on a Sunday afternoon in Minneapolis, Minnesota: The Sox turning in their fifth straight win or John Lackey finally looking like a healthy contributor?
We’ll go long-term, and support the notion that the prospect of the big righty being a solid presence in the starting rotation is tantalizing, as is the fact that the Sox bullpen went an entire three game series without giving up a run.
The Red Sox 5-1 rain-delayed victory over the Twins at Target Field encapsulated the entire five game streak, with solid starting pitching, timely hitting and Web Gems-a-plenty – and one can’t help but notice that the power is back on, too…
…Will Middlebrooks had yet another extra base hit, Sunday’s park job to center giving the Sox an early 1-0 lead. Dustin Pedroia finished the scoring, his 2 run blast adding an exclamation mark to a weekend series in Minneapolis that was good for the soul of the team – in fact the entire road trip to this point being some sort of preternatural holiday spa that has refreshed the entire roster.
That still doesn’t explain what got into Lackey, who brought a 1-4 record and a bloated 4.05 ERA into his start, and proceeed to shut down the Twins, not allowing a baserunner until the fifth inning. His day ended when the rains came, and he and his team mates settled in for a showing of a classic baseball film on Target Field’s jumbotron.
When the game resumed, the trio of Andrew Miller, Koji Uehara and Janichi Tazawa showed the proper respect for Lackey’s six inning, one hit performance by striking out six Twins between them as each pitched an inning of relief, Uehara striking out Joe Mauer to end a bases loaded threat in the bottom of the eighth.
The Red Sox are on a serious roll, and now go to the south side to take on a Chicago White Sox team that is seeking both an identity and a win. Losers of two straight, home has been only slightly more kind to them than the Twins, which doesn’t bode well for the pale hose…
…particularly with ace Jon Lester taking the hill for the Red Sox, Lester will take another crack at win number seven against Chicago’s Dylan Axelrod, who sports a 1-3 mark with a 4.27 ERA.
So with the Sox now fully emerged from whatever-that-was during their last homestand, they stand just a half game behind American League East leaders New York Yankees and headed into Chicago with a full head of steam – and closer Andrew Bailey waiting for them, expecting to be activated off the disabled list on Monday and ready to resume his duties.
A starting rotation getting quality starts down the line? A bullpen that’s coming together and getting their closer back? An offense that’s really starting to click?
Let’s wait and see how they handle the South-siders before we get all unicorns and rainbows over this Red Sox team, but it’s looking pretty good so far….