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This is starting to get very interesting

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 11, 2010 11:57 PM

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6ded61d184f0490dd30e6a706700cdc5.jpgWelcome back to the pennant race. No pushing and shoving to get on the bandwagon, there's room for everybody.

The Sox have won three straight, five of seven and 11 of their last 16 games. At 66-49, they're 17 games over .500 for the second time this season and now only 3.5 games behind the Rays.

It was nearly four games behind the Yankees before the fraudulent Texas Rangers blew a 6-1 lead and lost 7-6. But don't focus on that. Focus on the fact that with 49 games left to play, your team is very much in the mix and seemingly getting better by the day.

Red Sox fans buried Theo Epstein for standing still at the trade deadline. But the Sox have been incrementally upgrading their roster. Jed Lowrie, Felix Doubront, Ryan Kalish and now Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Nothing major, but all helpful.

There will be a big boost on Tuesday when the Energizer Bunny gets back on second base.

“Don’t sleep on the Sox,” outfielder Darnell McDonald said. “We have something good going on.”

You know what was kind of neat tonight? The clubhouse was quiet after the game. Terry Francona subbed for a few of the starters in the late innings and by the end of the night, the guys showered, dressed and left without much of a fuss.

The Sox know they have a long grind ahead and now is not the time to get giddy. The Yankees aren't going to make it easy and neither will the Rays. But it is a three-team race.

“We’re looking for a really big week right now,” said Bill Hall, who had two homers and four RBIs. “This is something we’ve been looking for for a while. Hopefully it will continue.”

John Lackey faces rookie spot starter Brad Mills tomorrow. Then it's Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Dice-K in Texas for what should be a fun series. When they come back home, it'll be Clay Buchholz (lowest ERA in the AL) against the Angels.

Buckle up. The best part of the baseball season is still to come.

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