After the dismal season of 2012 and the not fast enough departure of Bobby Valentine most fans of the Red Sox, me included, came into 2013 with limited expectations. The Red Sox did not make any major trades or free agent signings over the offseason. The biggest names to don the Sox uniform are Victorino, Napoli, Carp and Johnny Gomes. Let’s be honest none of us really thought either of those names would be the extra push the Sox needed to become contenders again. John Farrell became the skipper and that was probably the highlight if the offseason. The success he had as pitching coach under Francona, and the respect he earned brought a smile to all fans and players alike.
Enter the 2013 season the Sox won the 1st two series they played, on the road, taking 2 out of 3 from both the Yankees and the Blue Jays. With those wins the Sox were off to the races and barely looked back. Even that early on, as sad as it sounds, the Sox were in 1st place longer than they had been all of the 2012 season.
Definitely something to smile about.
The hot streak continued winning series after series and remaining in 1st place in a very strong division. Along the way to where we are in the beginning of July there have been ups and downs. This team has seen its ups and downs. Ortiz has come off his injury looking stronger than ever .317 16 HRs and 57 RBIs, Pedroia is looking like an MVP candidate .322 and 47 RBIs, Jacoby Ellsbury is even looking to be back in shape hitting a .296 and leading the league in stolen bases. Jon Lester has fizzled out from his CY Young capacity start, Buchholz has been accused of cheating because of his bounce back season, 1.71 ERA, and the new guys have been fitting in very nicely.
The new guys have been fitting in very nicely. Victorino is a welcome surprise with a .291 AVG, Mike Napoli is second on the team with 54 RBIs and Mike Carp in his limited games he is hitting a respectable .313.
The young guys are making a huge contribution as well. Daniel Nava is 2nd on the team with 10 HRs behind only Ortiz and also has a .285 AVG. Jose Iglesias may just be the star of the team. He has played SS and 3B and has adjusted very well to hitting in then bigs hitting a .409.
Closing out games has been the biggest issue. There has not been any constant in that role the entire season. Hanrahan was signed during the offseason and struggled and was eventually put on the DL. Bailey got his spot back by default and his struggles continued from last season and recently lost his spot to Uehara. Koji earned his 1st 3 saves then blew his 4th on a HR by Bautista but ultimately earned the win on a walk off by Victorino.
That walk off win was the 7th of the season for the Red Sox. This shows some resilience but could also be chalked up to luck. The naysayers are asking “If the Sox are so good shouldn’t they be winning before the 9th inning?” Valid point, but if the Sox can get a walk off hit against other teams closers, then there is a definite level of skill there in my opinion. Another way the Sox haters could claim luck is that 12 games this season have been decided in the last at bat. Again I argue resilience and talent. In games decided by 1 run the Sox are 11-1. Had any of those games gone the other way Red Sox fans might be singing a different tune, but they didn’t and here we are atop the AL East and the best record in the AL and 1st in the AL to 50 wins.
Every team has its haters that will claim flukes and bring up the “What ifs” but this Sox team has proven that they are Boston Strong and not just Boston Lucky.