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On baseball: Beginning to believe in Red Sox’ hot start

The Red Sox are 15-7 with three games remaining in their series with the Houston Astros.

Do we believe this? Do we trust April?

What we do know is the Red Sox have represented themselves as one of the best teams in baseball. And right now that’s all we can go by.

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By the end of this weekend, they could be 18-7. Then they head to Toronto to play the underachieving Blue Jays.

Think of what they’ve been able to do. They have survived the absence of David Ortiz. They excelled with Jose Iglesias at shortstop, then sent him back to the minors when Stephen Drew was ready.

They have survived a tough start by closer Joel Hanrahan, who went on the disabled list and was replaced by Andrew Bailey. When Hanrahan returns early next week, the Red Sox will likely have a closer controversy on their hands.

They lost John Lackey, but then Alfredo Aceves gave them two starts in which he kept the team in the game. Shane Victorino has missed time with back spasms, but Mike Carp has been red hot.

They have had their top two starters, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, pitch like aces. They won Wednesday night when Lester wasn’t at his best and they won Thursday night with Buchholz pitching into the eighth inning to record his fifth win.

There was no question that Lester and Buchholz had to be stellar for the Red Sox to succeed, and they have been.

“Yeah, things are going right right now,” Buchholz said. “When a ball’s hit, even a hard ball, it seems like it’s right at somebody. That doesn’t happen like that all the time, so you have to savor it while it is.”

“Guys are scoring me runs. I haven’t had situations where I’ve had to protect a one-run lead so there’s less pressure out there and all I have to do is throw the ball to location.

“Past couple of years I’ve been a slow starter. It feels good to get out there and following up spring training with a little bit of confidence and not feeling like there’s anything that I have to fix.

“Guys are playing well behind me. Things are going right. Balls that were homers last year when I’m missing middle of the zone are being fouled off or [batters are] swinging through them or taking them. It’s not always that way.”

Buchholz is a pitcher now. Opponents rave about his ability to beat you different ways, like Thursday night. When his trusty two-seamer failed him, he went to a traditional four-seamer.

He can do that now. He’s matured. He’s a pitcher.

Scouts will tell you that there may not be a better, more complete pitcher in all of baseball right now than Buchholz.

So with the Lester-Buchholz combination pitching so potently, it’s no wonder the Red Sox have been this good.

John Farrell’s style has resonated with the players and his approach to pitching has definitely helped Lester and Buchholz, his prize pupils when he was the pitching coach here.

Ben Cherington’s offseason plan has worked brilliantly so far. He targeted chemistry and acquired role players who he felt would fit with the team.

But who knows if we can trust April.

Are the Colorado Rockies really this good? Are the Blue Jays really this bad? The standings seem upside-down right now.

Should we trust April? Why not? As Ortiz put it, “This is a very good baseball team. Just watching it when I was out I realized that this team was put together the right way. It’s a close team. Guys pull for each other. If we lose a game we come right back the next day and forget about that loss.

“I like the way the guys respond to each other. I think it’s a close team and when you’re a close team you have each other’s backs. Guys pick each other up.”

The Red Sox played every division opponent within their first 12 games and came away with an 8-4 record. They have played nine road games and won seven. They are 8-5 at home, 11-5 against righthanded starters.

Yeah, it’s April. But you have to believe at least some of this is real and sustainable. Maybe after two years of injuries decimating this franchise, they’re due for a stretch of good health.

And sometimes you win because you’re the last team standing. After the last two seasons, the Red Sox would take that.

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