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What are the Red Sox made of?

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  September 27, 2011 11:30 AM

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BALTIMORE - We will all find out in the next couple of days what the players on this Boston Red Sox team are made of.

We will find out what Terry Francona is made of.

If there ever was a time for Francona to face his team collectively and utter some inspiring words, it is now. That job should not fall on Theo Epstein, who is with the team. It must come from the field manager.

Joe Torre, who in many ways has a similar personality and style as Francona, was always quietly effective in those rare times when he called the team together and spoke from his heart. You don't have to do this 99 percent of the time. But you have to pick that 1 percent where it can be meaningful and effective. And this would be that moment.

We find out about players and people in general when the pressure is on. And right now, the pressure is on. In some ways it's good that Erik Bedard is on the mound because his demeanor is unchanged from performance to performance, much like J.D. Drew. So maybe he won't get caught up in the pressure..

Dustin Pedroia will lead.

As he said last night, he will leave everything he has on the field and whether the team makes it or not, he will walk away knowing he did everything he could.

The next two days will be telling. And it will be telling for what Epstein will do going forward and the possible changes, big or small that will take place.

With big contracts, his hands will be somewhat tied. The Catch-22 is that he'll have to give out more big contracts to Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon. Given the return on the John Lackey, Carl Crawford, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Drew deals, the Red Sox might be hesitant to break the bank on anybody.

Are the Red Sox doomed?

Not necessarily.

While Tampa Bay has become the feel-good story and Boston the tale of woe, it doesn't have to end up that way.

The Rays have had to come a long way to get to this point on the positive side. While the Red Sox have come a long way down on the negative side.

We will watch tonight as rookie Jeremy Hellickson tries to stop the Yankee lineup. Hellickson has had a rookie of the year like season, but the national spotlight is squarely on him and we'll see how he handles it.

Opposing Bedard tonight, is another young pitcher, Zack Britton. The Orioles are obviously loose and Britton can be very effective. But again, he's a young pitcher throwing a pretty big game. Not for the sake of his own team, but in a true pennant race atmosphere.

The Red Sox offense has to get back to being that grinding, selective offense that drives pitchers crazy.

We will see tonight, how this team responds to the pressure.

We will see what they're made of.

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