Time and time again this season the question has been asked – are the Red Sox back in it?
It’s the first full week of July and there are four games left before the All-Star break. It’s pretty much "make or break" this week.
The Red Sox trailed the Yankees by six games in the AL East to start the week, but will face New York for three games this coming weekend at Fenway Park after hosting the Marlins for a short two-game series. Especially with their weekend series with the Yankees, the Sox can quickly get back into the thick of the AL East race, or they can just as easily quickly fall out of it.
Prior to the start an eight-game homestand last weekend, the Red Sox were 17-20 at Fenway Park this season. Manager John Farrell stressed that is something that needs to change.
"Just the record in general needs to continue to improve,” he said. “We've got some momentum coming off this road trip and we need to make Fenway a place that is our true advantage and to date that hasn't necessarily been the case. For us to thrive off the energy that is created off the fans, we need to play to that."
The Sox took two-of-three from the Astros over the weekend and averaged 6.33 runs a game. They are building some momentum as they have scored five or more runs in four straight games for the first time all season.
Their offense looks more like the offense many thought they would have to open the year. Hanley Ramirez is starting to come around, as is Pablo Sandoval and the younger core players – Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt.
The one major concern is the pitching, as besides Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez, no one in the Red Sox rotation has performed well of late. Rick Porcello and his major league-worst ERA hasn’t won a game since May 16, but he will pitch Wednesday. Justin Masterson has been moved to the bullpen. Not exactly a rotation that screams stability.
Speaking of the bullpen, that area has been very inconsistent over the last week or so, partly because they’ve been overworked with the starters failing to go deep into games. The group still lacks a player that is dependable leading to Koji Uehara, besides the overused Junichi Tazawa.
While the Red Sox still are far from perfect, this week is as good of an opportunity as any to get back into the playoff race. If they don’t, the talk around the team at the All-Star break will immediately focus on who should be traded.