By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
Its not how, its how many, right?
Certainly lacking style points, the first place Red Sox clinched a series win over the team with the best record in the American League, the Chicago White Sox, in their home ballpark in a barker of a game on Thursday night.
They survived another atrocious start by lefty Henry Owens, who thus far this year has shown about as much control as Johnny Manziel on a bender. The win required six innings of work from a bullpen that looks much more confident and rested than they were to start the season. As for Owens, his six walks over three-plus innings, which led to two earned runs, will likely earn him a pass to Pawtucket, as the lean lefty is proving to be nothing but a 4A pitcher.
But back to the big club, which is quickly putting together building-block moments that lead to teams to believe that they belong on the field with the best baseball has to offer. Just this week, there was the comeback win against an albeit bad New York Yankees team on what seems like a lifetime sentence of playing on ESPN’s useless Sunday Night Baseball. Punctuated by someone who was previously seen as a Punch and Judy hitter – catcher and Pitcher Whisperer, Christian Vasquez – the comeback against their former arch rivals with a seventh inning two run bomb from the guy with the lightning arm, lit a fire at Fenway.
Then, entering a series against the high-flying ChiSox that many thought would bring the boys of Boston back to earth, the smooth swinging Sox bounced back to win the last two games of the series after being stifled by Jose Quintana, who lowered his ERA 1.40 for the season by silencing the Red Sox bats over eight strong innings.
It is perhaps the most positive development of the short season thus far, the fight the Sox have shown both in games and after losses. Although their starting staff is still developing (Who was that guy with the funny haircut that showed up in the second inning of Wednesday night’s game in Chicago? And tell him to keep Clay Buchholz wherever he put him.) this team has shown resiliency, as Thursday night’s win showed in spades.
The Red Sox upcoming schedule sets up favorably for the AL East leader. After a weekend series against the lowly Yanks in the bandbox in the Bronx, they return to Fenway to face a not very good Oakland Athletics team for a three-game set, followed by four with a floundering Houston Astros team they have already beaten pretty handily in two of their first three meetings.
Should the Sox continue their streak of winning series – which now stands at four straight – they could put themselves in a position to be control of the division come Memorial Day, something we haven’t seen around these parts since Jonny Gomes was punting batting helmets in 2013.
It seems like right now everything is breaking for the Red Sox. When a starter fails, the bullpen picks them up and the offense rallies. David Ortiz is looking like a man on a mission, hell-bent on going out with a boom in his swan song season. Hell, even Hanley Ramirez is heating up, and Clay Buchholz threw the ball in his last start like a guy who wears boxer briefs and not a thong.
(Side note: Do you think if they both keep it up for another month or so, team president Dave Dombrowski can find some sucker to take them both in a package deal? Ok, I know; that is a topic for another day.)
They say that summer is coming, although I will believe that when I see it. One thing I have seen so far this wet and dreary spring, is a Red Sox team that has some life. And that is enough to melt the clouds away for a baseball rabid region that has been burnt too many times over the last few years.