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Red Sox notebook

They’ll have to tough it out

Next five series could be telling

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 14, 2010

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The Red Sox left for Detroit yesterday afternoon, embarking on a trip that could have a significant impact on their season. Seven behind the Rays in the loss column and six behind the Yankees, the Sox spend their next two weeks playing some of the best teams in baseball — almost entirely on the road.

The Sox face the Tigers and Yankees on the road, then come home against the Twins for two games, before going back on the road to visit Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Those five teams have a combined record of 107-62 (.633), and are all either first or second in their division.

This will give the Sox a chance to find out who they are as a team.

“It’s going to be a tough one,’’ Tim Wakefield said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. But I believe in everybody in the clubhouse downstairs and look forward to keeping the momentum going.’’

The Sox went 7-3 on their 10-game homestand, sweeping the Angels, losing two of three to the Yankees, then winning two of three over the Blue Jays.

“It was an important homestand for us,’’ J.D. Drew said. “We were trying to get our rhythm going, and I think we did that. We’re swinging the bat better now and giving our pitchers a chance.

“We did pretty well when you look at the 10 games. It’s a good test for us, good teams. But we need to keep playing well. We’ve shown we can play well at home and now we have to do it on the road.

“The good thing is we’re leaving here with some confidence and we’re looking more like we thought we would.’’

The offense came alive in the homestand, as they scored 6.6 runs per game. The pitching, however, still hasn’t been consistent, even though Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield are coming off very good performances. The Sox remain without Josh Beckett for the time being, as he works to calm his back spasms.

As Dustin Pedroia said, the Sox are “pitching better, hitting better, doing everything better. We weren’t doing anything very well early in the year.’’

That’s no longer true, but the next 13 games will be difficult. They might just put the Sox back in the mix, or take them out.

“This is a big trip for us coming up,’’ Jon Lester said. “We played well on the homestand outside of those two games against the Yankees. It just feels like we’re playing better baseball and the record also proves it. We’re pitching better, hitting better, everything has been improved.

“This is going to be a tough stretch on the road the next two weeks, but I think we’re going to be OK.’’

Traveling man
Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been recovering from four fractured ribs for more than a month, will accompany the team to Detroit, where he will continue to work with the training staff. There is still no timetable for the outfielder to start a rehab assignment. Ellsbury said there is still pain when he does some activities, but he has been making progress . . . Mike Cameron played in his third game with Pawtucket yesterday, going 0 for 2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. Cameron and manager Terry Francona said the plan is for him to play four or five times in the minors before rejoining the team, though that’s also subject to how Cameron feels. Cameron said Wednesday he hoped to rejoin the Sox for the series against the Yankees in New York . . . The Strasburg Express is not coming to New England. Stephen Strasburg was scheduled to pitch Monday in Pawtucket, but that’s no longer the case. The Nationals have decided to give the 21-year-old phenom an extra day of rest, pushing him to Tuesday. Strasburg will instead pitch against Rochester. Strasburg was the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft by Washington.

Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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