The Red Sox have more or less passed the first two-fifths of the annual regular season curriculum, trailing both the Yankees and the Rays by four games (five in the loss column). Realistically, perhaps they deserve an "incomplete" more than a grade, because they've labored for most of the season without two starting outfielders and their erstwhile ace, Josh Beckett.
Writing about the Sox creates special problems today, as attending my daughters' college graduation this weekend kept me away from the action. Suffice it to say, it was another 'Meatloaf" weekend, as in 'Two Out of Three Ain't Bad."
The Sox have moved the "plus-minus" rating in the right direction, and the "Run Prevention" strategy seems to be working out better lately as well. They have lowered their team ERA to 4.36 (ninth in the AL) and despite early defensive woes on the left side of the infield, they are now fourth in the AL in both fielding percentage and fewest errors.
Meanwhile, the "traditional" Sox are second in the AL in runs scored and lead the AL in OPS (.817). Among the regulars, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, and Victor Martinez all have an OPS over .850, and J.D. Drew is not far behind at .819.
The season, which appeared to be on the brink, no longer is, despite the cast of fill-ins and sometimes misfits who fill the diamond settings.
Needs? Yes, the Sox need a healthy and effective Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia in full health, and the continuing strength at the back end of the game with Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. It seems as though they always need another bat, and overall they have to be disappointed with the production from the outfield, notwithstanding the destructive debuts of Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava. Some have mentioned Rick Ankiel while perhaps their best hope comes just from getting healthy.
With the Celtics stealing the headlines, the Sox haven't done half bad...