The Red Sox are an imperfect 10-10.
The elusive .500 plateau has been reached.
Our world has been flipped upside down in the past week. The Red Sox were undefeated, the Capitals were legit and the Patriots traded up in the draft in the first round.
After six straight wins heading into Sunday' game, last-place never seemed so good, so good, so good for Red Sox fans. The once-flammable bullpen has gone from torching leads to throwing smoke. It must be those hoodies. They worked for Belichick. The Red Sox pitching staff is the second hottest thing in Chicago this weekend - after the tempers of Bulls fans wondering why Coach Tibbs left Derrick Rose in the game when the team was up 99-87 with 1:10 to play.
With the Red Sox stuck in the gutter after last Sunday's rainout - again the biggest Sunday rainout for in Red Soxdom since Oct. 26, 1986 - David Ortiz took to Twitter to try and fire up the masses with the above posting. Well done, Papi. While the team's marketing president is calling the AS Roma - Liverpool FC soccer game scheduled for July 25 the "premiere event" during the summer of Fenway Park's 100 anniversary, Ortiz deserves credit for recognizing the angst and disgust that the team's fan base was feeling a week ago. And to his credit, he has helped to deliver this six-game run. Don't kid yourself - Ortiz has been using the most potent performance enhancing substance available - a one-year contract. Add in those 25 pounds he shed in the offseason and his new-found willingness to go to left field and you have three answers as to why he's hitting .403 even after going 0-for-4 Saturday.
May usually brings us May Day, Memorial Day and Mother's Day. In 2011, it also brought us one the latest Mediocrity Day in recent memory. The Red Sox didn't reach .500 last season until May 15, when they corrected their vision to 20-20. Theo Epstein was responsible for two last-place teams with ties to Chicago this weekend. No tearful reunions. The Cubs are in Philadelphia, so Ben Cherington can't serve him the malpractice lawsuit this time. He'll get another chance when the Red Sox and Cubs play at Wrigley in June. At least Theo can pound a few Bud Lights with Jonathan Papelbon on Broad Street.
Reaching the .500 mark in April is proof positive that Bobby Valentine is at least two weeks better than Tito. Bet Bobby V. even knew which arm Jake Peavy was going to use to hold the torrid Red Sox to just one run. But that was one too many for these Bobby Soxers.
A week ago, the most valuable reliever on the Red Sox was Barry Burbank and every other meteorologist who brought all that rain to Boston. Now, the Red Sox deal more aces than the Mohegan Sun. Since the Red Sox limped out of town in the rain Sunday after the meltdown against the Yankees, the bullpen has allowed just one run in 15.2 innings on this road trip. Franklin Morales got two outs in the eighth Saturday and hasn't allowed a run in 22 straight road outings. He should be banned in Boston.
The 1970 Baltimore Orioles may have had Palmer, Cuellar and McNally, but they have nothing on the 2012 Red Sox with Vincete Padilla, Morales and Daniel Bard. And little Danny said it would be fine if the Red Sox have to use him out of the bullpen before his next start. Glad to know he's down with the team doing what it needs to do with its own players.
Alfredo Aceves has felt a chill in the moniker department - shifting from "Towering Inferno" to "Ice Cube." His ERA has evolved from infinity, to 81.00 all the way down to a Lackey-like 12.00. Aceves has held three one-run leads in his last three appearances. Papelwho? Let's not get too excited - we are talking about the Twins and White Sox here. But every lead in 2012 has been crucial for this team, which has already been left for dead two or three times this season.
It's not just the bullpen. Jon Lester (1-2) got his first win since Sept. 11 - having lost five straight decisions and going winless in eight starts. Lester threw seven shutout innings in the Windy City chill and lowered his ERA from 6.00 to 4.80.
It's Josh Beckett's turn Sunday. He gets a shot to raise his 2012 record over .500 along with the team's. Fourth-place beckons. The miracles may never cease.
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