Imagine if you will a long distance race in the Olympics. You are one of the best long-distance runners in the world and you are running your race. Your supposed rival is somewhere in the middle of the pack. You can't see him. You figure he's just doesn't have it in him this race. This is your race. But your rival likes being where he is. He thrives on the challenge and on testing himself. He has an ability to turn it into overdrive and summon something deep inside and slowly, with a few laps left, he starts to churn. He slowly gains ground, relentlessly. You still don't see him because he is still too far behind. But you can hear the crowd and you know something is happening. You don't quite perceive it yet. But your rival is coming after you. That has to be exactly the race the Bay Rays, the Yankees and even the Blue Jays must be running. But the Red Sox are coming. Slowly and steadily, they are gaining momentum and pretty soon, this rival is going to push you for all you're worth Tampa, New York and Toronto.
This should have been a tough part of the schedule for the Red Sox. They drew the Phillies for their interleague rival. Ouch. But they won that series after beating up on the Twins. Now they have taken the first game against the front-running Bay Rays. They are only a game behind the Blue Jays and two back of the Yankees. They are not out of it for the division race and certainly not out of the race for the wildcard. Here they come.
The thing about the Red Sox is their relentlessness. They just keep coming after you. Youkilis and Pedroia really exemplify this and they never take a game or an at bat lightly. Every one is a war and they are determined to win it. Youkilis has simply been unstoppable. When he doesn't walk, he doubles. When he doesn't double, he homers. He's been a machine on a mission and you can tell by his demeanor that he wants to waste you. Pedroia is the same way. He has a small man's complex with a bat in his hand. That's a pretty potent thing. His stats aren't yet what they should be, but he's coming. Just like the Red Sox.
David Ortiz, love him or hate him, is on a tear too. He's raised his average 70 points and he's hitting every mistake he gets thrown, and there have been a lot of them. J. D. Drew is coming on too after a slow start. Ellsbury is back, which means they have their speed back if he can get on base enough. That's always been the question. But when he does get on base, he creates havoc. Hermida has been clutch if not consistent. He has a ton of RBIs and always seems to get the big hit. This Fan thinks he's better than Cameron and should stay in the line up even if Cameron comes back.
An interesting thing has happened at catcher. Varitek, who couldn't hit anymore was replaced by Victor Martinez. Except Martinez hasn't hit and Varitek is hitting out of his mind. Plus, the pitchers have had a mutiny of sorts and don't want to throw to Martinez. This is a very interesting situation. But as much as it pains to write this, the Fan thinks you have to sacrifice the long-term offense and give the pitchers what they want. They are the ones who are going to get you where you want to go.
And everyone knows that the Red Sox haven't pitched particularly well. Their rotation, one of their key strengths, had been rotten. Beckett was awful and now is on the DL. Lester started slowly. Lackey started slowly. But the thing about the Red Sox is they have so much depth that they can keep throwing spaghetti at the wall until it sticks. They have done that all season and now the rotation of Lester, Lackey (who still isn't doing well), Dice-K, Buchholz and Wakefield are clicking. Dice-K and Wakefield destroyed the vaunted Phillies. They wasted them like they were the Mariners or something. Buchholz has been their best pitcher and he pitched great again on Monday night against the Bay Rays.
Don't look now, AL East, but the Red Sox are starting their kick and you better not look back or falter, because they like their chances and they like the challenge and they have plenty of time to win this race.