Wild American Gooner

When Sports Are More Than Just Sports

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Where Has This Team Been All Year?

Good morning, everyone. I was planning on just having one Arsenal post today, but after watching the Red Sox-Blue Jays game last night, I decided I needed to say a little bit about the best Red Sox performance of the entire year. I’ll have the Arsenal post up in a few hours as well.

Wow. I guess the Red Sox really don’t want to see any of their teammates traded away. Where has this team been all year? Just about everybody in the lineup was effective at the plate last night in a 14-1 rout of the Blue Jays, as the offense scored more runs than they had in any game all year. A daunting road trip could have derailed the Sox’s momentum, but the reigning champs kept up the pressure on the rest of the AL East with another win, their eighth in the last nine games. Suddenly, the Trading Deadline doesn’t feel so imminent.

As I wrote yesterday morning, the bats were coming around everywhere except the middle of the lineup this past weekend. Last night, Stephen Drew, Daniel Nava and everybody else who has been struggling all year continued their impressive start to the second half. Every player except for two had multiple hits by the start of the sixth inning. But the difference last night that set off the huge offensive night was that David Ortiz started hitting again. After taking an extra session of early batting practice before the game to rediscover his stroke, Ortiz found success immediately. He had to work for his two home runs, as neither pitch was right in his wheelhouse, and it was evident that the extra work helped him stay balanced in the box. And behind him, Mike Napoli also continued to heat up, hitting another home run himself.

Along with the boost that Ortiz’s night provided, that Drew’s bat is starting to come around is nearly as exciting for a couple reasons. It gives the lineup an extra dimension when he adds some pop. And frankly, I’ve been tired of hearing so many people hate on the guy on talk radio in recent weeks. His defense has always been superb if not spectacular, but his steadiness is more valuable than the flare Jose Iglesias provided. Pitchers love having Drew behind them, and that’s worth a lot.

He’s also capable of hitting more than your average shortstop can. Just a couple years ago, he was considered an elite hitter, and while the glimpses of that player have been rare in his time in Boston, he can still be a threat offensively. Drew could have a lot of say in whether the Sox keep digging themselves out of their hole.

I’ve been expecting Brock Holt to come down to earth for a long time but the longer this goes on, the more it looks like he’s here to stay. Last night was yet another engaging chapter in the Legend of Brock Holt. Three months ago, who would have thought that we be a thing people would be writing? He collected two hits – he’s still leading the league in hits since his call-up in May – including one off yet another lefty, and scored a couple runs.

But it was his catch in right field that stood out for me. It’s amazing how quickly he’s adapted to playing the outfield, and this particular catch showcased all the skills he’s developed in the last month. He read the ball off the bat, sprinted to the right spot, timed his jump perfectly and held onto the ball when he hit the wall. It takes years for the best outfielders to learn how to do that, but Holt has done it in a month. There’s no telling what’s coming next from the little man.

It seems strange that David Ortiz passing Carl Yastrzemski wasn’t mentioned on NESN by Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, or at least not in any way I picked up on, but that milestone home run was hardly the story last night. Not even John Lackey’s stellar start deserved the bulk of the headlines either. It was a night about the whole team putting things together. And in that way, it felt a lot like last year.

Suddenly, things are looking up for the Red Sox. It seems like Jake Peavy might be taking the mound tonight in Toronto after all, even after an entire month of trade talks. With the rest of the team’s fortunes rapidly changing, maybe it’s time for Peavy to earn that elusive second win of the season. After the last few days, I expect nothing less.