The Sox went to beautiful San Diego, and my daughter's college roommate Meghan and her father got a bit of a disappointment as the Sox beat the locals. The Padres had their throwback Civil Defense helmets on, and the Sox the haze grey unis from the 1980s.
For the statistically inclined, Baseball Prospectus' Monte Carlo simulator pegs the Sox at having a 98% chance of making the playoffs.
The Sox remain with the best record in baseball, and a number of players have flown under the radar. Most notably, Kevin Youkilis remains with David Ortiz among the top five in the Sagarin Rankings for AL hitters.
Daisuke Matsuzaka clocks in tied for 4th in AL wins, aided by both better pitching lately and the 7th leading Run Support in the League. He also falls among the league leaders in the 'Rickey' stats, a reflection of pitching power, (innings pitched plus strikeouts) less (hits plus walks plus hit batsman).
Manny Ramirez has moved his average up to .304, leads the Red Sox in games played, and his OPS is up to .905.
Jonathan Papelbon with 17 saves in 18 tries, a career E.R.A. of 1.54 and 145 strikeouts in 128.2 career innings remains the force at the back end.
Dustin Pedroia has maintained an average at .323 and has a remarkable OPS of .854, which may catapult him into consideration for AL Rookie of the Year honors. Pedroia also has an above average fielding percentage of .988.
Of course, Pedroia's competition for AL ROY will include Matsuzaka, on pace to win 20 games, and Hideki Okajima who has surprised everyone with his performance. Okajima isn't likely to maintain a WHIP ratio of .79 or allow less than 5 hits per nine innings, but he has been a revelation.
On the frustrating side you have the mysterious disappearance of Julio Lugo challenging the Mendoza Line, although playing a consistent shortstop, and J.D. Drew's overall underachievement. Coco Crisp has emerged from his slump, either finally getting healthy or getting a push from Jacoby Ellsbury.
If you like characters, the Sox have the loquacious Schilling, the eccentric Tavarez, and of course, Manny. If you want cliche's and consistency, the Sox throw Terry Francona at you. And if quiet professionalism calms your soul, rely on Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell.
Sleep deprivation continues as the only legitimate gripe Sox' fans have these days.