Revitalized Red Sox Take Over First Place

Adrian Gonzalez has re-energized the Red Sox offense.

Adrian Gonzalez has re-energized the Red Sox offense.

Aidan Lancaster

The Red Sox woes seem to be behind them as they are heating up going into the dog days of summer.  The surging Red Sox are over .500 for the first time this year and did so with a win over the Yankees and are tied for first with the Yankees.  The Red Sox have been playing up and down baseball all year, but the sweep of the Yankees back on May 15 could be looked at as the turning point for this Red Sox team.  During the off season, general manager Theo Epstein went out and acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and left fielder Carl Crawford.  It seems as if Gonzalez has found his swing, and although Crawford is still trying to find his niche, he is showing glimpses of greatness with his 3 walk off hits so far.

The first two months of the season were not kind to the Red Sox and their new players, but May has been a different story as the Red Sox have caught fire. The offense is firing on all cylinders and is in the top 10 for all offensive categories.   The offense is led by Adrian Gonzalez who leads the league in RBI’s and the Red Sox in average.  Everything is looking better – especially David Ortiz who is swinging the bat like he was back in 2007. Ortiz has not been anxious and does not have do provide all the offense because of the tools surrounding him.  The heart of the order – Youkilis, Gonzalez and Ortiz – have all been patient at the plate drawing walks and going with the pitch for base hits instead of going for the long ball each time up.

One big problem early in the year was the catching situation.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia was supposed to be the catcher of the future, but his .216 average in April was concerning to manager Terry Francona who decided to give Captain Jason Varitek another shot.  Varitek’s .111 average in April did little to improve their offense though.  Epstein and Francona agreed that Saltalamacchia would get the majority of the starts, but Varitek would catch Josh Beckett and Jon Lester since they do considerably better with Varitek behind the plate. This past week, Saltalamacchia batting was .353 with 3 home runs (the first home runs from a Red Sox catcher this year).  The Yankees and Red Sox seem to be going in different directions as the recent Red Sox sweep gave evidence to.  The Yankees came out of the gate hot, going 11 of 6 but are struggling as of late and Captain Derek Jeter, in maybe his last year, has had his worst hitting year in his career.

Even though John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka were struggling and are now on the DL, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett have been doing very well and the bullpen has been solid with veteran Jonathan Papelbon leading the way.  Papelbon has regained his explosive fastball and has been throwing consistently in the high 90’s.  To go along with the heat, he has got great command too as he has only walked 3 of the first 81 batters he has faced.

After a dismal start the boys of summer have gotten their swagger back and look forward to another World Series run.