Five wins, two losses, 34 runs scored, and just 23 allowed. Those are the numbers achieved by the Red Sox in the seven day period from May 17-May 24 in which the last Fan Confidence Poll was taken. And somehow they have resulted in a drop from of a few points to 69 instead of the rise I would have expected.
This was, after all, a week that started with the Red Sox at 21-20. Maybe it's because confidence was at an all-time high with the team finally breaching .500, except that presumably pulling into a tie for the division lead--however short-lived that one may have been--should be the greatest accomplishment of the year so far.
Of course, the Sox have done the best possible job to dispel any misgivings over the past two games, scoring 28 runs against the two teams atop the A.L. Central while allowing only 3 in return. But how did these misgivings appear in the first place?
Maybe it's about injuries. Seeing players go on the disabled list is rarely a good sign for the team, and while losing John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka may seem like addition by subtraction, it was May 23 that Dustin Pedroia left a game against the Indians with a foot injury and gave Sox fans their most recent cause for alarm.
Or are we still worried about the big holes? For instance, Carl Crawford's 2-for-4 night in Cleveland is the only bit of his recent resurgence that would factor into the period, and that ended with a game-ending GIDP with a man on third.
My guess, though, would be that it has to do with the bullpen. The five solid wins from that period are a lot harder to remember than the two dramatic losses. I can't picture Salty's solo shot and Gonzo's four hits en route to a 5-1 victory nearly so easily as I can Matt Albers' impressive collapse against the Cubs or Drew Sutton coming up just short on that ground ball against the Indians.
But there are causes for concern, and then there's making mountains out of molehills. If you entered into that seven game set confident in the bullpen, then you still should have exited it feeling a lot better about the team. Anyone who lost faith in Matt Albers and Daniel Bard over the period had to find some in Rich Hill. But more important is what happened to the rotation, which went from being scattershot and terrifying to appearing five-men deep again as Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield came out and shut down the Cubs on back-to-back nights. We're still waiting on start two from Tim Wakefield, set to take place later tonight, but no matter what getting those two solid starts was huge.
I don't doubt the number will rebound after those 28 runs--assuming, of course, the Sox don't make a mess of things over the next few day. But I still feel as if we're a fanbase just barely stepped back from the cliff, and that any light breeze is bound to send us toppling back over into talk of sucking. We're 28-22--by itself a 91-win pace--and 26-12 since starting out 2-10. Remember how we felt about this team before the season started? It's time to get back to that.