Say this for the Red Sox: They break, but they do not bend.
A rash of losses in April and an equally painful string of injuries might have destroyed a lesser team. But the resilient Sox, capitalizing on strong young pitching and a flurry of unexpected contributions, remain in the thick of the pennant race.
If the first half had a face, it was Adrian Beltre. The newly acquired Gold Glove third baseman was expected to make an impact in the new world of run-prevention. But it’s his offense that earns him first-half MVP honors.
Beltre, who had eight homers and 44 RBIs for all of 2009, hit .330 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs in the first half, helping to mitigate the loss of so many key offensive cogs.
And that, too, is where Beltre made an impact, quite literally. The jab of his knee into the ribs of Jacoby Ellsbury in early April is still being felt in the clubhouse in mid-July.
Ellsbury’s absence was the first of seemingly endless injuries to key players. Dustin Pedroia (foot), Victor Martinez (thumb), Josh Beckett (back), Clay Buchholz (hamstring), Mike Lowell (hip) and Jason Varitek (foot) would all join Ellsbury on the DL, forcing the Sox to rely on obscure figures like Darnell McDonald, Felix Doubront and Daniel Nava to keep the ship afloat.