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Posted By Brian Joyce On May 16 2011 @ 7:38 pm In Boston Red Sox | No Comments

With a three game sweep of the New York Yankees, the Red Sox have finally made it to the .500 mark.  Raise your hand if you thought the Red Sox wouldn’t reach the .500 mark until May 15th? I don’t see any hands raised. The last time it took a Red Sox team this long to reach the .500 mark, was back in 1996 when it took 128 games to reach that feat. Oh by the way, that was Roger Clemens last season in Boston.  The 0-6 start seems like a lifetime ago.

Right now in the American League, is their a better starting pitcher than Josh Beckett? He currently has a consecutive scoreless innings streak of 18 1/3 innings that stretches to April 27th. In 14 innings against the Yankees this year,  he has struck out 19 and has allowed just six hits without giving up a run. Beckett has only three wins this year, but two of them against the pinstripes.  Beckett’s best year so far in Boston was back in 2007, when he won 20 games and guided the Red Sox to a World Series title.  He looks as good this year as he did four years ago.   Both times Beckett was matched against the Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia and has out pitched the hefty lefty in each game.  Once at Fenway and most recently in New York on Saturday night.

Its been a struggle for the Red Sox so far this year, inconsistent play all the way around. When they have received some solid starts, the bats went dead. When the bats were alive, the pitching took a beating. The bullpen also gave away some games,  a lot of ups and downs this year for this team.  Game after game, series after series. They did show some flashes of breaking out of it ( sweeping the Angels in Anaheim) but the next series in Baltimore, almost got swept themselves. Jon Lester bailed them out by pitching a gem to avoid the sweep by the Orioles.  The next series, Boston had to win the final game of  a weekend series against the Mariners to avoid being swept at Fenway. We have been accustomed over the years watching the Red Sox pummel teams at Fenway. So far that hasn’t been the case in 2011, Boston is only 11-9 at home. Boston opens up a seven game homestand starting tonight with the lowly Orioles in town for two games. Then the Tigers hit Fenway for two games, before the Cubs arrive this weekend for the first time since the 1918 World Series.

We’ll see if sweeping the Yankees gets this Red Sox team back on track. Perhaps for the first time all season, Boston is playing the way we were all expecting them to play. Carl Crawford has two game winning hits this month. Jacoby Ellsbury is creating havoc on the basepaths. Ellsbury has hit safely in 22 of the last 23 games. During that span, Ellsbury has raised his average .177 points. When Ellsbury gets on base, good things happen.  What more can anyone say about Adrian Gonzalez? He has been on a tear  this month, he might be the toughest out in baseball. Kevin Youkilis is coming off a weekend that saw him hit two big HR’s. A two run blast on Friday night was the difference maker, and last night he hit a three run bomb to tie the game. Even 39 year old Jason Varitek has stepped it up at the plate. The Red Sox captain is 6 for his last 22 with two RBI’s, three walks and two doubles in his last seven games.  The offense is showing signs of snapping out of it. That’s good news for the Red Sox, but bad news for baseball.

Remember the 2009 Yankees? They got off to a slow start after spending lots of $$$ during the winter. I’ll refresh your memory about  that team.  New York went  23-17 after forty games and was 29-21 at the end of May. The 2009 Yankees finished that season with103 wins and we all know how that season ended.  What we don’t know, is how this Red Sox season will end. If Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Lester pitch to their capabilities, baseball will be fun again in Boston.

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