Red Sox postseason run? Stranger things have happened

Will Middlebrooks will be key to any second half run for Boston.

The Red Sox seem so dysfunctional and are so banged up that confidence in their chances is rather low. But before we hammer another nail in their coffin remember that at the All-Star break last season some folks were struggling to find a flaw with this team. The Sox were 55-35, the best record in the American League.

Then what happened?

Yes, as bad as Boston ended the first half and as much as everyone wants to blow the whole thing up, the definitive “it’s all over” statements are a bit much. Just as the “they can’t be beat” statements were last July.
With just mediocre play the Sox will remain a factor in a tight Wild Card race. With only a slight improvement they could claim the final playoff spot in the AL, no matter how cheap it might feel.

Obviously, Boston must get better starting pitching. It needs production from soon-to-return stars. And the club must avoid another significant injury; it is a house of cards that could crumble with one more tweak, pull or sprain.

Here are five other ways the Red Sox can remain a factor:

1. Start the second half on fire
This sounds obvious. The team needs wins. What they also need, however, is a reason to be aggressive at the trade deadline. If general manager Ben Cherington can see his team come together and climb the standings in the next two weeks, he might have a better sense of how to fill gaps.

2. Bullpen needs a break

Only five teams in baseball have used their bullpen more than Boston. That was an issue last season and it showed — the relievers’ ERA over the last three months of 2011 was 2.39, 3.49 and 4.45, respectively. This year’s pen has been the calm amid the storm, but that changes if the workload takes its toll.

3. Win late
The Sox are just 1-5 in games decided by a walk-off hit. Last season at the break they were 5-1 in walk-off games, and 8-1 a week into August. They could use a reason to mob one another at the plate, for few things galvanize a clubhouse quite like it.

4. More from Middlebrooks
When Middlebrooks was raking the rest of the team seemed to feed off it. When he got hurt the offense went into the toilet, coinciding with a hot streak for Kevin Youkilis in Chicago. The organization as a whole will feel a lot better if Middlebrooks returns after the break and hits the way he did in May and June.

5. Fight club
Hate to promote violence and it’s not easy to create a brawl from scratch but many teams have come together amid a fracas. This is a team that could use a little dust-up, something to get a disparate group behind one another. At the very least it could serve as an outlet for frustration.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

Local

Future Boston Alliance invites you to #RidetheLine, support…

#RidetheLine aims to show the city, the nation, and the globe our creative impact as Boston citizens.

Local

(Update) Body of missing BU grad Eric Munsell…

The dead man pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon was that of missing 24-year-old Boston University alumnus Eric Munsell, Boston Police said today.

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

Arts

'Becoming Cuba' at Huntington is a bit short…

Playwright Melinda Lopez freely lampoons the English language for its lack of passion in her latest work, “Becoming Cuba.” Ironically, the Huntington Theatre Company’s playwright-in-residence…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

NFL

Patriot’s schedule comes up fair

Those looking for built-in excuses for the Patriots 2014-2015 season will have to look elsewhere, because their schedule came up fair. For the fourth straight…

MLB

Nava demoted, Victorino return imminent

  Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava, who was batting a team-low .149/.240/.269, was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. "His struggles at the plate, I…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.

Style

MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.