That about says it all, doesn’t it?
Here’s all you really need to know about what the resurrecting Red Sox have accomplished this month: En route to a 12-16 month of June, Boston scored 84 runs in 28 games, an average of three runs per game.
In July? Well, that’s been a bit different. How about 83 runs in 16 games, or an average of 5.2 per game?
How does a team magically flip the switch in last-gasp desperation for the offense it has been lacking for three whole months? How does a team almost double its output of runs in a three-week span? A.J. Pierzynski was bad, but c’mon, he wasn’t that contagious.
(On a side note, the Pierzynski/Jake Parkman/”Major League 2” comparison – does this make Christian Vazquez Rube Baker? – has become frighteningly accurate. But to play it out all the way, a contender like Detroit, Oakland, or the Los Angeles Angels would have to sign him, setting up a postseason showdown between the former Red Sox catcher and…let’s tab the honors for Lester, whose worst start of the season came with him behind the plate in lieu of David Ross back in May, causing the first Pierzynski firestorm to brew.)
Anyway, just what should we make of the Red Sox’ 14-run outburst in Toronto Monday night? Consider that the 14 runs, 18 hits, and four home runs that Boston used in its 14-1 onslaught against the Blue Jays were all season highs – in the same game. The previous high for runs and hits came less than 10 days ago, when the Sox scored 11 runs on 16 hits (also accomplished two other times this season) in Houston. Boston had hit three home runs twice in a game, most recently on June 22 against the A’s, a game made memorable thanks to David Ortiz’s game-winning shot in the 10th inning.
The Sox have hit only 76 home runs this season. Only Minnesota, Texas, and Kansas City have hit fewer among American League teams. In July though, they’ve hit 14 in 16 games, 18 percent of their total season output. Only Detroit, Cleveland (both with 166), and the Angels (191) have more hits this month than the 162 Boston has amassed. Only the Angels have a higher OPS this month (by .001) than the Red Sox’ .794.
The Sox have hit 32 doubles and four triples. They’ve walked a league-high 61 times. They’ve scored in double digits twice in July, something they had accomplished only once the previous three months of the season.
What is going on?
For all the rightful guff he’s gotten this year, Stephen Drew had started to come alive even before Monday night’s two-hit, four-RBI night, with an .892 OPS for the month, walking nine times, as many as Ortiz. Only Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.895) and Daniel Nava (.928) have higher OPS averages this month among regulars. Naturally.
Bradley is hitting .378 this month; Nava, .410. Brock Holt leads the team with 38 total bases, 10th-most in the AL for July. Ortiz has driven in 16. Only his pal Torii Hunter has more (19) in Anaheim. Hell, Ortiz is tied for the team-lead in homers with Drew this month with three. Maybe the $10 million shortstop certainly needed some level of “spring training” time to adjust (which is why they have, you know, spring training, Mr. Boras, but we digress…), but how does that possibly account for the rest of the ship finally setting sail?
All that being said, where the hell is Dustin Pedroia?
The fact that the Red Sox are rebounding without much contribution (.269 average, .638 OPS – only Xander Bogaerts has a worse mark among regulars in the lineup this month) from their one-time spark plug is even more remarkable. He was the only starter without a hit in Monday’s affair, and is muddling through the worst offensive season, a three-year decline so concerning that you have to wonder if the Red Sox look at it in terms of how they approach a long-term deal with Jon Lester. Yet, there he is every night, batting in the two-hole behind Holt, with the inevitability that John Farrell is going to be forced to move him down at some point looming. We assume the gamer in Pedroia will accept what’s coming. Then again, we assumed the gamer in Pedroia to figure this all out at some point over the last two years.
Even so, the Red Sox have won eight of their last nine, and are improbably on the cusp of getting back into the playoff hunt (7 ½ back in the division, six in the wild card). No, they are not dead. Not yet. In fact, it’s just starting to get interesting, kicking off a fascinating stretch that leads to a trading deadline, when the Sox probably right now have no clue if they’re going to buy or sell.
Feeling better, indeed. Think I’ll go for a walk.