Are the Red Sox actually making a run?

Rob Bradford
August 29, 2019 - 8:05 am
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You might not want to give up on these Red Sox quite yet.

Make no mistake about it, this is still at least a Mount Washington-grade climb for Alex Cora's crew. But to the Sox' credit, they are doing their darndest to make it interesting.

With their 7-4 win over the Rockies Wednesday night, the Red Sox now sit five games out of the final Wild Card berth, that was thanks to Oakland's loss to the Royals. They are also four in back of the slumping Rays, who have now lost four in a row. This Sox team, which is battling the math that comes with having just 28 games remaining, has won nine of its last 12 games and is 4-1 on this current West Coast road swing. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' win, click here.)

"Obviously, the Rays, we get to play them one more time," Xander Bogaerts told reporters after becoming the first Red Sox' shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra to hit 30 home runs and drive in RBI after two more homers. "Oakland and Cleveland, we can’t control those two teams. We had a good chance the last game in San Diego but tonight was a good one and they lost. Hopefully, they lose a couple of more."

There is hope for these Red Sox, and it does extend just beyond the idea of bludgeoning teams like the Rockies with the bats of Rafael Devers, Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez, who all homered while going a combined 8-for-14.

The taking-on-water Rays have one more game against the Astros Thursday before battling the Indians over the weekend. After somehow losing to the Royals the A's will play Kansas City one more time before heading to New York for a three-gamer against the Yankees.

A big part of this whole equation, of course, is the necessity of the Red Sox to keep winning. There is no room for error, with their next test coming in the form of three games in Anaheim against an Angels club that has lost six of its last seven.

What trends in the Red Sox' favor is obviously an offense that is boasting maybe the best No. 2-3-4 combination in the game right now thanks to Devers, Bogaerts and Martinez.

"I wouldn’t say the best," Bogaerts said. "Maybe we might be one of the best."

But how about the rest of the equation?

They have a reliable pitcher in Eduardo Rodriguez, who turned in a good-enough, five-inning, three-run outing Wednesday night. Rick Porcello may have finally figured some things out with solid performances over his last three starts. David Price is coming back to pitch Saturday. But then what? One of the keys will be the Red Sox getting Nathan Eovaldi to find somewhat of a groove, pitching more than three innings at a whack. That test will start Friday against the Angels.

Then it will be about all about using the tidal wave of September call-ups to help fill in that final spot with bullpen games.

The good news is that some of the Red Sox most reliable pitchers have been relievers. But there is also the reality of not wanting to lean on the likes of Josh Smith, Mike Shawaryn, Ryan Weber and others too, too much.

They aren't out of the August woods yet. But, to be fair, we said to reconvene when this whole West Coast swing was over, perhaps defining the conversation then. Three more games. At least a discussion can still be had.

"September 1 we’ll talk about it," Cora told reporters. "I’ve been saying that since April, I’m not going to deviate from that. I know where we are, how talented we are, we just have to do it on the field and we’re playing good baseball."

The Red Sox extended their home run streak to 18 games, the third-longest in team history with the 2016 club holding the mark with 22 straight.