The Red Sox return home after an impressive 6-1 road trip. It was exactly what the team needed after leaving Fenway dejected thanks to a 15-9 loss to the Yankees on April 21. It was followed by a much-needed rain out. The Sox traveled to Minnesota and promptly swept the lowly Twins. A trip to Chicago ended with a loss but not before Valentine’s boys snatched up three victories. It was an impressive stretch against competition that is not close to the likes of the Rangers, Rays, and Yankees. But hey, you don’t make the schedule–you just play the games.
Overall, I was very happy with the ways in which the Red Sox won ballgames. On several occasions, it was the offense delivering the blows to the opposition, putting up crooked number after crooked number. The pitching staff wasn’t to be outdone either. Jon Lester went pitch for pitch with Jake Peavy on Saturday night, and the bullpen held up their end of the bargain. The Sox won the game 1-0. This road trip proved that the local nine can win games in a variety of different ways.
Are there still a fair amount of chinks in the armor? Absolutely. But the past seven games have gone a long way in reminding fans of a few important points: It is only April. Slow starts can be (and often are) overcome by good teams. And to win regular season games, you need to be able to hit, and the Red Sox do that better than the vast majority of teams–even without Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford.
Points of interest as the Oakland A’s roll through the hub:
Clay Buchholz-The slender righty will open the series tonight, and he is in desperate need of a quality performance. In his last start, Buchholz again pitched poorly against the frail Twins’ lineup. Similar to his start against the Rays earlier in the season, Buchholz allowed five runs, and the offense bailed him out. He
earned was gifted wins in both starts. In his outing against Tampa, Buchholz was able to toss seven full innings. Conversely, the Texas native couldn’t make it out of the sixth frame last week in Minnesota. Tonight is an important start for a pitcher looking to justify a hefty contract extension.
Yoenis Cespedes-The Cuban defector will probably strike out four or so times during the three game set, but he is just as likely to hit a ball that lands in Somerville.
Bobby Valentine-Valentine and his club found refuge away from Yawkey Way, winning six of their last seven. Last time he set foot on the diamond at Fenway, he received a wave of unnecessary and misallocated boo’s from a crowd made up of people who likely still believe Terry Francona is going to bust through the clubhouse doors and save the day (just like he did at the end of last year, right?). I’m interested to see how he is received during this initial stage of this homestand. As always, winning changes everything.