It's been an extremely strange week here in Boston. It began on Monday with a walkoff win by the Red Sox to cap a three-game sweep of Tampa. It ended with a shootout in a Watertown backyard. In the interim, the residents of this town had to deal with the trauma of twin bombings in the heart of the city, the nervous worry that more attacks might come, a violent running battle through Cambridge and Watertown, and ultimately a total shutdown of the city and its surrounding suburbs yesterday. Throughout that week of complete psychological upheaval, it was at least nice to know we still had a baseball team to watch. And they did us pretty proud, following their sweep of Tampa with a sweep of Cleveland. When they return to Fenway this afternoon, they'll do so riding a six-game winning streak.
The trip out to Cleveland brought back more than a few memories. Every time I see the high walls of Progressive Field, I think of the 1999 ALDS and Pedro Martinez's no-hit relief appearance against the thousand-run Indians lineup. Memories also loomed in the form of Terry Francona, who became the Indians' manager in the offseason. Here at OTM, we looked at the trades that link Boston and Cleveland, with Ben analyzing the trade that sent Justin Masterson to the Indians, and Marc looking back at what might have happened had Boston traded for Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Cleveland series, although a sweep, did witness one major hiccup. On Wednesday night, John Farrell stuck with a clearly gassed Alfredo Aceves for one inning too many, and while the move didn't prove too harmful, it was worrisome. Ben wrote about why we should hope it wasn't the beginning of a trend. One trend we hope will continue is the success of Boston's starting staff, who still have not given up more than three runs in a game. Matt Kory took a closer look at their performance. One thing that may help that performance stay strong is (I can't believe I'm typing this sentence) the return of John Lackey, who has begun his rehab from a biceps injury suffered in his first start. It hasn't just been the starters, of course. Matt Collins looked at the astonishing success of Junichi Tazawa since he came up to the big-league bullpen last summer.
It wasn't all great news, of course, as Jackie Bradley's hot spring has turned into a very cold April. Bradley was placed on the bench for a few games, as his performance at the plate has declined. Despite our hopes that maybe the kid would force a tough call around this time, it looks like the most probable outcome has arrived. Bradley was optioned to Pawtucket, where he'll get a chance to play every day and continue his development. The better news is that David Ortiz has returned to the big-league club, and will likely enter the lineup soon, perhaps even today. After this week, seeing not just the Red Sox, but their smiling slugger, on the field at Fenway will go a long way toward getting this city back to normal.
Enjoy the weekend, all. If you're in Boston, get out into the city, have a bit of fun. If you're not, do the same. And thanks for the support you've shown over this week. It's really helped us get through. Sox-Royals at 1 PM.