The Red Sox enter the final series of the first half tonight in a far better spot than many imagined during the dark days of April.
Boston was 2-10. Competing for respectability looked a long way off. Struggles were rampant.
It’s a whole new world now. Going into tonight's series opener against the Orioles at Fenway Park (7:10 p.m., NESN, WEEI), the Sox are in a nip-and-tuck race with the Yankees for first place.
Plenty has gone right. But it’s not perfect. Here’s the good and the bad of the first half.
Adrian Gonzalez has set the AL on fire. The first baseman went into last night’s late game against the Blue Jays batting .348 with a .405 on-base percentage, .583 slugging, 16 home runs, 75 RBIs and 59 runs. Only Toronto’s Jose Bautista can compete with those numbers, and he’s doing it for a losing team.
Likewise, David Ortiz has torn the cover off the ball. Big Papi was relatively cold in April, with a .768 OPS. But he posted a 1.080 OPS in May and a .985 in June, marking his best season since 2007 — and we don’t need to remind you how that campaign ended.
On the mound, Josh Beckett has made a legitimate case for the Cy Young. His 2.12 ERA is second-best in the AL, and he’s held opponents to a league-best .178 average. The Texan has been a lone bright spot in the rotation.
Any discussion of Red Sox ugliness begins and ends with the back end of the rotation. Daisuke Matsuzaka made just seven starts — good for a 5.30 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP — before being lost for the year with Tommy John surgery. John Lackey has been even less effective. His stats (5-8 through 13 starts with a 7.47 ERA, a 1.63 WHIP and a .304 BAA) rank among the worst starters in the majors ... let alone the worst starters costing their teams $82.5 million.
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