We knew these Red Sox would arrive, didn't we?

Rob Bradford
May 11, 2019 - 8:20 am

They will play to the back of their baseball cards.

It's one of the oldest and easiest crutches used throughout a Major League Baseball season. Through all the ups and downs, twists and turns of 162 games the temptation to jump ship with certain players or teams can always be tempered by recent history. The lesson is simple: There is a reason numbers and outcomes took place not so long ago, and that reason will ready to slap us in the face almost without fail.

Sure enough, the Red Sox are giving us all a pretty good slap.

With their 14-1 win over the Mariners Friday night, the Red Sox are now over .500 for the first time this season. They are 9-2 in their last 11 games and 14-6 over the last 20. And no team in baseball has a better run differential than Alex Cora's club since Apri. 19 (plus-43). (For a complete recap of the Sox' win, click here.)

Even without two of their five starters, the perceived strength of this team (which had been its biggest early-season problem) the rotation is doing what they were supposed to be doing. With Eduardo Rodriguez's seven innings of shutout ball the group now has a 3.06 ERA going back to April 12.

And the offense? This time they got homers from Mitch Moreland, Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers. It was just a few weeks ago those last two were among the players being put under the microscope due to an inability to hit the ball over the fence. That narrative has taken a sharp turn, as well.

"We know who we are, we know how we can play and like I say, it’s a big relief for us that now we go over .500 and then we start playing better," Rodriguez said. "Like I said, we know who we are, we know how we play and we’re going to be better than this."

The Red Sox start was so bad, and the Rays start was so good, it was really, really difficult to default to the back of the baseball card thing. It certainly seemed bizarre that a collection of baseball players who were so good just six months before could be so across-the-board bad. So when the statistical think tanks started rattling off the percentage of clubs who actually made the postseason with such a start to the season, the benefit of the doubt became razor thin.

But there were a few realities that were ultimately going to emerge:

- A team like the Rays were going to have a difficult time dealing with any sort of adversity. That's where payroll often comes in. And sure enough, the thing that was going to allow for a legitimate run by Kevin Cash's team, the top of the rotation, has taken a hit with injuries to Blake Snell and now Tyler Glasnow.

- Through all the concerns about Chris Sale, it wouldn't be until after the seventh start -- which was when his fastball velocity took off a year ago -- that we could make the ultimate judgment. Sure enough, that eighth start just happened to be an eight-inning, one run gem that included a fastball in the mid-90's. Rick Porcello? Too much of a track record to be that bad. And Rodriguez did have that run last season in which he was among the best pitchers in the American League.

- It wasn't too long ago that the Red Sox had one player (J.D. Martinez) with an OPS of better than .800. Saturday morning they woke up with seven of them, relatively the same as a year ago.

- All those American League teams that were overachieving and making things uncomfortable for the Red Sox were ultimately going to come back to earth. Seattle is now under .500. Oakland is in last-place. The Tigers are 16-19. The Blue Jays and Orioles are a combined 25 games under .500. Those are all teams that either won or tied series with the Red Sox and were supposed to be examples of how this year wasn't going to be like 2018. Well, it will be.

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