Nobody is ever going to accuse this Red Sox team of quitting.
After a devastating start to the second half of the season that saw them lose seven of their first eleven games, including four of seven against the lowly Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, the Red Sox have righted the ship.
They’ve now won five of their last six games, including a three game sweep of the Angels in Anaheim and two straight walk-off wins against the undermanned Detroit Tigers.
And they were one run away from a miraculous come-from-behind victory in the game they lost. Had Mike Cameron not accidentally glued his bat to his shoulder, we’d probably be talking about six straight victories.
It’s no coincidence that the shorter their disabled list becomes, the better this team plays. Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett returned against the Mariners, which solidified the starting rotation. Victor Martinez returned against the Angels and provided instant offense for a team that was desperately in need of it.
Even unheralded Jed Lowrie has been big since his return, playing quality defense at second base and coming up with huge hits late in both Saturday and Sunday’s walk-off victories.
They may not have made a trade at the deadline, but that had more to do with what was available than how the front office feels about this team’s chances. But even with the lack of deadline moves, the look of this team has already changed and will continue to change over the next few weeks.
Jacoby Ellsbury is finally close to returning to the Red Sox, and should be back this week. Jeremy Hermida was designated for assignment to make room for your new starting left fielder Ryan Kalish. Dustin Pedroia should be back by the middle of the month.
The Red Sox may not have been able to improve the bullpen with a deadline acquisition, but Ramon Ramirez was addition by subtraction, and Michael Bowden and Felix Doubront are two young power-arms who are likely to be added to the bullpen soon (so long Okajima?).
The team taking the field every night might not be as good as the one that dominated the months of May and June, but it’s much better than the AAA squad the Red Sox ran out there every night in July.
By the end of August, they should finally be fielding the team they expected to field at the start of the 2010 season. They may not have enough time to make up the ground they’ve lost in the AL East and Wild Card races, but they aren’t giving up without a fight.
And with all we’ve seen from this team since 2004, is anyone really ready to count these guys out?