There’s been a great deal of hyperbole tossed around in the past month or so about the chances of a postseason berth for the Red Sox in 2014. On the morning of Memorial Day Monday, with the Sox having lost 10 games in a row, their season was dubbed “over,” by most. They then won seven games in a row and many said their march back to October had just begun. Then there was another five game losing streak to start the month of June, and the pessimists were once again vocal. Since those extreme days, the Sox are 6-4. Not great. Not bad. Slightly above average.
If the Red Sox can maintain that “slightly above average” pace over the next 10 days, the glass half full Sox fans will be happy at their Fourth of July cookouts.
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A daunting road trip against the A’s, Mariners and Yankees begins Thursday in Oakland (10 p.m., NESN). If Boston can go 5-5 on the trip, it will almost certainly remain just five games out of a wild card spot with 80 games left on its schedule. If the Sox go 3-7, 2-8 or 1-9 – then the pessimists may finally have a legit case.
The Red Sox have an opportunity to show that some semblance of 2013 magic carried over to 2014 in this upcoming stretch if they can just hang with three American League teams that are legit playoff contenders.
The A’s are the best of the bunch, owning the best record in the AL at 43-28. Oakland currently has three pitchers with over five wins and a below- 3.00 ERA and the Sox will face two of the three. Lefty Scott Kazmir, who is enjoying an all-time bounce-back year, is 8-2 on the year and sports a 2.05 ERA. He will go Thursday against Jake Peavy (1-4, 4.53 ERA). Jesse Chavez, who owns a 6-4 record with a 2.93 ERA, will throw Friday for the A’s against Felix Doubront (2-4, 5.12 ERA).
The Mariners (37-34), who host the Sox for three games beginning Monday, are playing their best baseball of the season as they are 10-5 in the month of June. Robinson Cano (.327 batting average) has been highly productive for Seattle lately, registering at least one hit in 13-of-16 games played in June.
The Sox will be in good shape if they show up to Yankee Stadium on June 27 with three or four combined wins under their belts against the two aforementioned AL West teams. Over the next two weeks, the Yankees (36-33) will be slugging it out with AL East teams exclusively, so there is plenty of opportunity to make up some ground in the division.
Follow Metro Boston Sports Editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS