Red Sox

The Red Sox had a reasonably good weekend, just in time for a big test

As the Houston Astros come to town, are the Sox finally starting to establish themselves?

Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill smiling.
Rich Hill put a smile on plenty of Red Sox fan faces with another strong start in Texas against the Rangers Saturday. LM Otero/Associated Press


We’ve been waiting for this from the Red Sox for six weeks, and you didn’t watch a second of it, did you?

You’re forgiven, of course. Just as you’d be forgiven if, say, on Jan. 22 — as the Celtics foundered at 23-24 after another failed fourth-quarter closeout and the Bruins won their 10th in 12 games, Tuukka Rask appearing to be finding it again — you made some grand pronouncement that looks silly today.

Seasons are long things, especially in baseball, where it’s today easier to get into the playoffs than it is Arizona State. With the second-worst record in the American League, the Red Sox are just 4.5 games out of the third wild card. They’d have to leapfrop seven teams to do it, but it’s the hope that counts in the middle of May.


Just like that Globe revelation over the weekend that actually, Xander Bogaerts would listen to a Red Sox contract offer during the season if it meant he could make something close to market rate in the only organization he’s ever known. Seems eager to deal, gang. Maybe work on that?

But that’s a story for another day.

Back to that weekend you missed, the capper to a 3-2 road trip that was, well, progress. Eighteen runs in two days at last-place Texas isn’t world changing, especially after Martín Pérez picked them apart Sunday, but it’ll do pending what’s next: A three-game visit from torrid Houston.

The Astros have won 12 of 13, with a half-dozen shutouts in there. The starters are third in the majors in innings per game, and a lockdown bullpen has Houston with seven one-run victories and just three losses in games that were tied or Astros leads going into the seventh inning. (The Red Sox have lost eight such games.)

It feels like the last team a group trying to string together a little momentum wants to see, at Fenway or not. And yet, what a boost a series win would be as the schedule offers the Red Sox a golden road — Seattle, at the White Sox, Baltimore, Cincinnati, at Oakland — immediately after.


The gold, and the chaff, is starting to establish itself. Austin Davis is definitely starting to feel like this season’s Josh Taylor, the reliable reliever appearing out of relative thin air. Though he was also pretty good in low-leverage roles last year after being acquired at the trade deadline.

Remember when Ryan Brasier was that guy in 2018? After Sunday’s one-inning, four-run, two-homer mess, his fastball has a .435 batting average against it and he’s got a case to be the worst bullpen arm in the majors. Another guy who it felt like the Red Sox needed to get something from who isn’t providing much.

Offense can paper some of that over, and it did on Friday and Saturday. Kiké Hernández working a couple walks around his superb diving catch in right center. Alex Verdugo getting rewarded for continuing to drive the ball, immediately after driving the ball off his foot.

Christian Vázquez straining at a two-strike pitch away and plopping it into right center for an RBI on Friday. Bobby Dalbec bounding an RBI single through the left side on Saturday. Franchy Cordero ripping a couple balls to right to add on.

Rafael Devers, Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez too, of course, but they’ve not been the issue. Nor, still, has the starting pitching. Watching 42-year-old Rich Hill fan $325-million man Corey Seager with a 68 mile-per-hour frisbee slider? What’s better than that.


(This weekend, like 10 other things just at TD Garden, but that’s beside the point.)

A rotation built around Hill and Michael Wacha, who could be back by the end of the week, is never going to feel like bedrock. But there are more arms ready in Worcester, be they Connor Seabold — who struck out 11 on Sunday and has a 2.45 ERA — or someone else.

The starters haven’t collectively taken enough weight off the bullpen’s shoulders, I suppose, but they’ve certainly done their part to keep games winnable into the late innings. In the modern game, that’s all a mediocre team like these Red Sox can expect.

Should we be satisfied that $200-ish million has bought a mediocre roster? Absolutely not, but that’s where we are and it’s good enough to snake October baseball. And if the expanded playoffs make anything clear, it’s that the sport is perfectly fine with devaluing excellence across 162 games because it can make more money from the ones that come after.

It doesn’t excuse Chaim Bloom’s roster construction this year, nor will it excuse when he and his budgetary constraints tear it unrecognizable this winter and make you wonder just what exactly we’re doing here. Again, though, angst for another day.

We’re on to Houston, still maddeningly good and conveniently playing at Fenway on two nights where you won’t only see them during Celtics commercial breaks. Two out of three against the Rangers isn’t much of a bar to clear, but the Red Sox cleared it, and they’ve got Garrett Whitlock and Nate Eovaldi lined up to follow.


The time to get going was weeks ago. But now will have to do.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on