…and I think the Sox will be there (knock on wood and cross my fingers, do not be angered baseball gods!)
Right now, the Sox are 5 games back of the Rays, and 3 games ahead of the ChiSox/Twins (tied for the lead in the AL Central and for 2nd in the Wild Card) the Yankees, in 3rd for the Wild Card at 7 games back, still wait, ready to ruin someone’s playoff hopes. I know that they are not likely to make it to October, but they are the Yankees, and you can never say never.
A few good things are happening this week: the return of Josh Beckett (hopefully to last year’s sept-oct form), the possible (likely) return of Mike Lowell, and later we might see JD Drew, Colon, and maybe even Buchholz. Also, the Red Sox play mostly at home (even though it is against mostly decent teams), while the Rays, Yankees, White Sox and Twins play mostly on the road (Yay!). This might not necessarily make much of a difference, but it is a lot harder to win on the road and it’s a lot harder for the Sox to lose at home (it happens, but our chances of winning double when we play at home).
I just want to say how proud I am of the way they’ve played this year. The Red Sox have been through the ringer this year (not as bad as ’06, but not good) We lost Manny; Big Papi, Mike Lowell, JD Drew, Dice-K, Wake and Beckett have all had stints on the DL. Youk and Ellsbury have missed a smattering of games with random minor injuries and illness, Ellsbury has been having a hard time batting in the number 1 spot (his bat is inconsistent), Lowrie, Pedroia, Bailey, Casey, Youk, Lowell, Lugo, and Cora have all put in time in the infield, with only Pedroia playing daily at his spot. And to top it all off, the Captain has been like an automatic out at the plate (though he is hitting much better recently)
That’s all the bad that’s been the summer months of the 2008 season. Now for the good:
-JD Drew being Mr. June and winning MVP of the All-Star game (where the Sox were well represented)
-Dustin Pedroia (pictured). Building on a fantabulous rookie season, Dustin has become an RBI machine, with an astounding on-base percentage and playing like he’s at home in every stadium. Excellent fielding, fast runner, and very good at adapting to other situations, he should be a candidate for MVP.
-Jacoby Ellsbury. Despite his struggles with the bat this season, that boy has wheels. He
steals bases like a kid snagging candy from a 7-11. He makes great catches, mostly
because he can make it from one area of the outfield to another in seconds and goes for it every time.
-Jason Bay. JBay fits in at Boston like he was meant to play here. He hits, he makes
plays, and most importantly: we have a left-fielder who’s play gets him more headlines than
his attitude and his antics. (Sorry Manny, I will always love you, but I am looking forward to
Bay playing all of September)
-Jon Lester. In the years to come, he just might be the best pitcher in baseball. He threw a no-hitter, he’s beaten cancer, and according to Varitek, who is an excellent judge in
pitchers, we’ve only begun to see what he can do.
-Bailey, Lowrie, and all the other new additions: The Paw-Sox were beastly this year. And every time the Sox called up a player to the Show, they’ve done well. Especially Bailey and Lowrie. (Lowrie has finally made Sox fans secure in who was playing at short. We weren’t worried about the errors.) Plus the players we’ve added over the season, everyone has been pulling their weight.
-Youk. Kevin Youkilis should be the AL MVP this year. He’s played first, he’s played third, he’s been an RBI machine. He’s moved into Manny’s spot and taken on the burden of hitting after Papi. But don’t tell him about the MVP, he would much rather have a ring.
Now, to recap the game.
Byrd hung in there to get his third win, but the O’s hung around until the last inning, threatening to take over, but Paps hung in there to notch another save. It was not a good night for the bats. We left 12 men on base. 12. Despite back to back HRs by Tek and Bailey, the Sox had a hard time producing with men in scoring position.
A W is a W and on a night where the Rays were idle, it was a good win to make up some ground on the AL East leading youngsters.
A good night for Boston, despite a shaky performance. That game should have been a blow-out. Up tonight is Lester vs. Liz. Last time the Sox took on Liz, they hammered him, scoring eight runs and knocking Liz out of the game in the 3rd. Lester has had a shakier month in August compared to some of the other months he’s pitched, but his version of shaky is losing 2 decisions in six starts, and having one game where he didn’t go 6+ innings. He bounced back after that particular start to hold the Yanks to just 2 runs, walking none and striking out 8. He is 2-0 against the O’s this season.
As September gets going, look for the Sox to call up some players and have all their injured men come back from the DL, ready to make a strong push for October.
Now, onto Football:
The season kicks off with Jersey/A (NYG) vs. the Skins on Thursday, and everyone else follows on Sunday and Monday. The NFC East looks like a beast this season, so don’t expect any of those teams to run away with the division. The Patriots should again take the AFC East, though the division did get a little tougher with the addition of the Farve and with the young talent added to Buffalo. Brady should start, despite a “sore foot” that has plagued him all pre-season. (Note, “sore foot” might be Bellichick speak for “not really injured, just trying to throw you off) So here’s my NFL predictions, starting with the NFC.
NFC Champs: If the Cowboys can win 1 playoff game, they’ll win them all. If not, go with the Saints or the Eagles or the Skins…maybe the Vikings.
AFC Champs: Patriots (sorry, they’re beasts). Maybe the Colts, the Chargers (depending on Merriman) and the Jags, or the Browns.