If there is a lesson for fans of contenders (this, sadly, does not apply to fans of, say, the Pirates) it is that it is never smart to get too high or too low over the course of a season where all is transient until the cumulative effect kicks in. This year's Red Sox were never as bad as their start (or as mediocre as the weeks that followed). And they probably are not as good as they are playing right now.
Still: Fuck yeah!
This is more like it. They are banging the piss out of the ball and preventing the other guys from doing the same. And the rising tide has elevated nearly every boat. Carl Crawford's slow start is giving way to him showing major flashes of being the guy who signed a monster contract in the offseason. Consecutive four-hit games will do something for a struggling man's numbers, and his .244/.277/.368 is merely bad, not wretched, and those numbers are on an upward trajectory. The same can be said for the team as a whole, which had been mired in the middle of the league in the various offensive measurements, crude and otherwise. They now rank 3rd in batting average (crude!) 4th in runs, and second in both on base percentage and slugging (otherwise!)
The pitching has not been quite as glorious in the aggregate, but the Sox are missing 40% of their starters and the 1-2 punch of Josh Beckett (I have no answer to it either) and Jon Lester is getting support from Buchholz and others. The ageless Tim Wakefield had a marvelous start last weekend and Alfredo Aceves has done well after being thrust into the starting rotation, something all the more gratifying because he was plucked off the scrap heap of the Yankees.
Suddenly the Sox are in a virtual tie with the Yankees for first place, with Tampa 1.5 back (and the O's at .500 and Blue Jays only two under) and they have the third best record in the American League. This is what I think we all expected. And this is what we'd love to see going forward.
Now, since last I wrote (I was in San Antonio last weekend, thus the absence) the Sox have gone 11-2, a pace I'd love for them to continue, but let's be realistic. But this is the team I think we all hoped to see. The AL East is going to go down to the wire, and that's as it should be. But there is ample reason to believe that when it all shakes out, Boston will be looking at another postseason berth and another shot at October Glory.