If the Red Sox' current surge is going to become more meaningful than just a stretch in which they've won six of seven, they're likely going to need to have to sustain this for another couple of months. Not necessarily the success rate, because it's impossible to expect the club will win 86 percent of its final 65 games -- but in order to get back into a position where it could become a legitimate threat in the American League, it would probably need to play the way it has of late, when the offense has finally started coming to life in the game's crucial moments.
In that regard, sustainability often comes from depth, and from a team's ability to get contributions from up and down the roster rather than be carried on the back of one determinant player. Which offers yet another reason to be encouraged by what the Sox have done recently, and to believe they may have a run in them yet.
When Mike Napoli joined the party Saturday night, hitting a moon-scraping home run to break a sixth-inning tie, he became the 10th different Red Sox player during these six victories to improve the team's chances of winning by at least 9 percent in a single plate appearance.
Here's a look at the various contributors, with the percentages according to the Win Probability Added numbers published at Baseball-Reference.com.
July 19, vs. Kansas City
Mike Napoli, 19 percent added, go-ahead home run in sixth
July 18, vs. Kansas City
Jonny Gomes, 35 percent, go-ahead two-run homer in sixth
Xander Bogaerts, 19 percent, two-run homer in sixth
July 13, vs. Houston
Brock Holt, 10 percent, leadoff home run (among five hits)
July 11, vs. Houston
Brock Holt, 16 percent, RBI triple to right in the third
Christian Vazquez, 9 percent, bases loaded double in the sixth
July 10, vs. Chicago
Mike Carp, 30 percent, walkoff single
David Ortiz, 26 percent, two-run double in sixth
Jackie Bradley Jr., 15 percent, game-tying single in sixth
David Ross, 10 percent, no-out walk in sixth
July 9, vs. Chicago
Daniel Nava, 49 percent, game-tying double in ninth
Brock Holt, 31 percent, walkoff single in ninth
Jonny Gomes, 18 percent, RBI double in eighth
Holt, the sparkplug, has put his stamp on three of the six wins, and while only four players have not increased the Sox hopes by more than nine percent in a single at-bat it may have been for lack of opportunity as much as anything.
Stephen Drew hasn't done it, but he's hitting .417 with a .558 OBP over the team's last seven games. Mookie Betts hit .364, with a .417 OBP, and scored from first on the Nava ninth-inning double that tied the July 9 game against the White Sox. And Shane Victorino has played only one game, going 1 for 3.
The only position player left is Dustin Pedroia, who hasn't done much at the dish during this run. But that could be taken as a good thing. For a portion of the first half, a finger was pointed at Pedroia and Ortiz, with some saying that the Sox needed their two middle-of-the-order stars to carry a struggling lineup.
Each of them is hitting .214 over the last seven games -- yet Boston has six wins. Others are contributing, with seemingly a different guy stepping up to do the job every night. And if Pedroia and Ortiz can join them more regularly, the Red Sox just may be able to sustain their hopes a little bit longer.