The Boston Red Sox won their 7th game in a row on Sunday, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 to finish off a series sweep in Boston. A week ago today, the Sox had lost their 10th consecutive game and people had to started to write off the reigning World Series champions as nothing more than a .500 team at best. Boston has proven to be resilient, and it’s due in large part to the dominance of the pitching staff.
Jonathan Lester threw seven shut-out innings in today’s game, as well as striking out 12 Tampa hitters. Lester allowed only four hits and walked only one in the superb performance, continuing a string of good pitching performances that have given up three runs or less in the last six consecutive games. Last night it was the excellence from Rubby de la Rosa that kept the Rays in check, as he put up seven scoreless frames in his first start of the season.
The Red Sox were extraordinarily bad during that 10-game stretch, scoring two runs or less 5 times. The offense seems to have woken up along with the defense, and with the re-singing of shortstop Stephen Drew last week, it should only get better. Drew turned down a 1 year-$14 million deal in the offseason to see if he could get a multi-year deal elsewhere, but when that didn’t come along he opted to stay in Boston for one more season. Drew is a solid hitter from the shortstop position, and could move Xander Bogaerts back to third base. It might come a little later than usual though, as Brock Holt’s bat is on fire at the moment and John Farrell might want to ride it out as long as it lasts.
The Sox probably won’t be getting seven scoreless out of guys like de la Rosa very often, so it will be up to the Sox offense to get behind pitchers even when they’re struggling. David Ortiz is having yet another great season at the plate, as are Bogaerts and Mike Napoli, but the production from the outfield has been abysmal. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Shane Victorino have been just short of easy outs, with batting averages of .207 and .242. Johnny Gomes hasn’t been much better and Grady Sizemore cooled off considerably after a great start. The Red Sox won’t have a chance to defend unless the bats heat up.
While Boston is still six games behind division-leading Toronto, they’ve gotten back to within 2.5 games of the Wild Card spots. It’s much too early to think anything is locked up at this point, but the Sox could have easily just fallen off a cliff after the huge losing streak. Ferrell’s club responded in the only way you can – winning.