You wouldn't know it with all the trade drama that's enveloped the Red Sox over the past few hours, but today the Red Sox played a game that put them at new heights for this season both in terms of record and outlook.
Now winners of four straight series, the Sox have surged back from a terrible slump that left them three under .500 to surpass their previous high of three over with a 38-34 record. They now sit just 1.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and 2 games back of the Los Angeles Angels, who currently lead the race for the second wild card spot in the American League.
Not only that, but the way they did it was once again encouraging, displaying a lineup that looks just about ready to start firing on all cylinders.
We've been riding some hot streaks for a while now, to be sure. While Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks, David Ortiz, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have been enough to carry the team on their backs for a little while now, but it was unrealistic to expect them to keep up forever. Now we have signs of others stepping up. Dustin Pedroia reached base twice, and had some good contact besides. Adrian Gonzalez broke out of his long power slump with an opposite field shot that he seems to have been searching for for days now and added a walk and single later.
And then there's Cody Ross. Oh, Cody Ross. It seems like nobody's incredible year has been easier to ignore in some ways. When he went on the disabled list, it seemed like a loss, but not a catastrophic one. Perhaps it's the nature of the guy who provides the big hit every so often rather than providing the .400 OBP (though Ross is no slouch at .349), but he's doing more than enough to remind everyone what we've been without. With two big homers and five runs driven in today, Ross first gave the Red Sox the big lead in the fourth with a three-run bomb, and then put the game back on ice after a short-lived comeback with a two-run shot in the fifth.
Add in Kelly Shoppach being his usual self, and you've got signs of life nearly everywhere.
Aaron Cook, meanwhile, was just Aaron Cook. No more, no less. Ground balls left-and-right, a few fly balls that were a bit dangerous, and then unfortunately one that actually caught wall after a few of the ground balls got through. A bad throw to third cost him an extra run, but in the end it's the sort of game you'll gladly take from Cook.
The Blue Jays are up next. With the Orioles playing the Angels in a short set, now would be a good time to both separate from the bottom of the division and gain ground in the wild card chase.