|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
They say revenge is best served cold, but I prefer it served at around 85 degrees in a hot and muggy Tropicana Field. Yes, revenge always seems sweeter when you embarrass the home team in front of their home crowd, especially when said home team is ranked first in the AL East.
After the Rays swept the Sox in the second week of the regular season at Fenway, it was only fair that the team returned the favor in Tampa, and did so in a dominating fashion. Boston took all three games this week in Tampa, and it wasn’t because of a lucky hit, or a crucial save. The Sox kicked butt on all accounts, outscoring the Rays 19-4 over the 3-game series.
It seems as though Theo’s off-season master plan to beef up the starting rotation is shaping up quite nicely. Jon Lester is the best pitcher in the AL right now, with 72 strikeouts. Giving up just one hit to the Rays in his 2-0 shutout Tuesday night, Lester is looking better than ever.
Clay Buchholz has also been more consistent as of late. He’s starting to care less about who’s on base and instead, he’s settling down and just worrying about his pitching. I’ve been very impressed with him.
In addition to Buchholz, the defense as a whole is settling down a lot more. Beltre has been solid and error-free at third base for a few weeks, and the return of Jacoby Ellsbury to center field last week, albeit brief, was a sight for sore eyes.
And who would’ve thought David Ortiz would be leading the team with 10 home runs? Both he and Kevin Youkilis have been hitting the ball much better after a slower-than-usual start and are putting runs on the board.
The team is starting to look like the team we remember.
Heading into a four-game homestand against Kansas City this weekend, it appears that this is just what the doctor ordered for the Sox who are trying to climb the AL East standings ladder. As it stands, the Sox are just two games behind the Yankees, and it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities that they could pass them and end up in second place after Monday night’s game.
The Sox are on a five-game winning streak, and there’s no reason they can’t take at least three of the four games. Depending on how Zack Greinke does on Saturday, we could see another sweep. The Sox have the potential to really make up some serious ground over the next three weeks as they take on Oakland, Cleveland and Baltimore.
Could it be that the Sox are finally coming out of their slump? Maybe. But let’s remember that it is still May, and 2/3 of the season still remains to be unseen. Certainly they are showing far more potential than they did a month or so ago, but I’m still skeptical.
Chances are Ellsbury is going to end up back on the disabled list, and it’s probably one of many other injuries we will see over the course of the lengthy season. Sometimes we forget that there’s still plenty of baseball to be played, but we wouldn’t be Boston fans if we didn’t immediately start talking about playoffs as soon as our teams start winning games early in the season.
I’m not counting them out for the AL East title, but I think they’re better suited for the Wild Card. Let’s face it, the Rays aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Their glitch this week against us happened at an opportune time and we were able to close the gap a bit, but their roster is stacked on both sides of the game. With guys like David Price and Evan Longoria, it would be a sin to not be in first place. Mark my words that in two or three years, the Rays will be the next baseball dynasty.
The Sox should focus on making it to the playoffs first, and then take it from there. Baby steps. We all know anything goes in playoff baseball.