The Red Sox are 7-1 in their last eight games and, unless you're actively trying to avoid any and all conversation and/or narratives surrounding the team, you'll have noticed some hope has started to return to Boston now that they've pulled within six games of .500.
That's a good thing, to be sure. Hope is healthy. It reminds us that we've won three World Series in the last 10 years and are no longer the same beaten down fanbase we were in 2003. Can you imagine a 7-1 run that leaves the team at 46-52 having any impact on the way said team was viewed back before 2004?
Still, while hope is healthy, delusion is not. And we should remember that these Red Sox have done this before. In fact, they did better, going directly from a 10-game losing streak into a 7-game winning streak in late May. They proceeded to lose the next five, and never established any real momentum again until A.J. Pierzynski was designated for assignment two weeks ago. Given that these wins have come against the White Sox, Astros, and Royals, and that four of them came by just one run, you'll hopefully understand when I say it's way too early to start talking playoffs again.
That being said, this series against the Blue Jays represents more of an opportunity than I would have guessed possible two weeks ago. The Red Sox can't afford to drop any games this close to the deadline, but that a sweep could actually make a difference is, in its own right, remarkable.
And that sweep isn't completely outside the realm of possibility, either. They've got two wins against the Rangers behind them now, but before that they were on a 2-9 slump culminating in a series loss against the Tampa Bay Rays. What's more, even without Jon Lester the pitching matchups aren't all that unfavorable if you take into account positive trends from Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy. Rookie Marcus Stroman has proven to be quite good, but R.A. Dickey is still not at all his old self, and neither J.A. Happ nor Drew Hutchison inspire much fear.
Really, though, the question for the Red Sox will be how real their improvement at the plate is. Has Jackie Bradley Jr. just stumbled on a hot streak doomed to end any day now, or has his changed stance brought us the player we were expecting when he was tearing up the minors? Can Christian Vazquez stay hot at the plate, or will we start seeing the Vazquez who struggled through April and May in Pawtucket?
The Red Sox can't prove much of anything here. Amusingly enough, even if they sweep the Blue Jays, the very act of doing so will ensure that all the wins in their run of success came against teams that finished the series under .500. And anything less than a sweep leaves the Red Sox still at least four games under .500 headed into a trade deadline where they can't really afford to be inactive.
Still, that we're even talking about the possibility of extending this run to 11-1 is significant in its own right. It's probably too early for hope, but if nothing else the players we're likely to depend on in 2015 are showing us there's a reason to turn to them again when the time comes.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. You can join in now using this link, and put your money where your...uh...hope is? I...I may not have thought this all the way through.