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Globe 10.0: How are the Red Sox in first place?

Posted by David Lefort, Boston.com Staff  May 28, 2009 12:21 PM

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Despite getting zero production from the No. 3 spot in the lineup, injuries to key players, and a starters' combined ERA of 5.36 (which ranks 26th of the 30 teams in the majors), the Red Sox still find themselves tied for first place (at 27-20, same as the Yankees) nearly a third of the way through the season. So how are they doing it?

Globe columnists Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy ponder that question on today's episode of Globe 10.0. Here are the opening statements:

Bob Ryan: "If someone had told you before the season that as we get into June that David Ortiz would be below the Mendoza line [a .193 average], Jon Lester would be 3-5 and Daisuke would have the same amount of loses as last year [3] with 18 fewer wins, you'd say, 'Wow! Third place? Fourth place?' But Dan, for what it's worth, with a mediocre record, they are tied for first place. What do you make of all of this?"

Dan Shaughnessy: "Most of those things, maybe not the Ortiz thing, but most of those things are going to correct themselves. Daisuke is going twin some games, Lester is going to win a lot of games. Theo [Epstein] assembled a 1-12 pitching staff he thoughts was the best, and that is what has sustained them."

Ryan and Shaughnessy agreed that the huge offensive contributions of Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis as well as the rebound seasons from Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell have helped carry the offense.

Ryan also accentuated the contributions of the bullpen (which has the lowest ERA in baseball at 2.99), and in particular Ramon Ramirez, whose ERA is remarkably the same as his WHIP (0.74).

Shaughnessy thinks the Red Sox are in great shape moving forward, considering the team is stocked with good young pitching and a veteran (John Smoltz) on track to join the club next month as well.

"They've been to the West Coast twice already, two-thirds of the season is still in front of them, they haven't gotten anything out of the three spot," Shaughnessy says, "and while that might continue with [Ortiz], they're gong to have some production out of that spot now [that Ortiz has dropped to No. 6]. The lineup is what Theo likes, the relentless guys, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay ..."

Ryan agreed.

"The other thing you can feel good about is that no one else has been doing a great deal of anything," Ryan added, "because 27-20 isn't exactly a record of distinction. But it is good enough to be tied with that team from the Bronx for first place."

Watch the clip above, and share your thoughts in the comments section and the survey below.

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