Things looked pretty good for the Boston Red Sox going into this weekend's three-game series at home against the Toronto Blue Jays. Cody Ross had hit a walk-off homer in Thursday night's game to take three out of four from the White Sox, and all of a sudden the Red Sox were 1/2 game back of Baltimore for second in the AL East and close to a playoff spot. Maybe this left-for-dead team had a chance.
Then Toronto came to town and put up 28 runs in three games, handling Josh Beckett and Aaron Cook, and putting a beating on ace Jon Lester. Lester gave up 11 earned runs and four homers in four innings, an atrocious outing for a pitcher who needed to step up and stop the bleeding.
Instead, the Sox now find themselves in a perilous spot. 9.5 games back of the Yankees, it looks like the AL East is long gone. There are two Wild Card spots now, but the Sox, at 48-48, are now 3.5 games back of Los Angeles, Baltimore and Oakland, all tied at 51-44. Not to mention that Chicago, Tampa Bay and Toronto are all now in front of the Red Sox as well.
There is no time for the Sox to lick their wounds, though. They head to Texas, second-best in the AL and possessing a lineup that has mashed Sox pitching recently, for a three-game set starting Monday. They have Thursday off, and then face the Yankees in the Bronx for three. The Yankees have the best record in baseball. And if that's not daunting enough, the Detroit Tigers, winners of five in a row, come to Fenway after.
Right now is the time when the best teams separate themselves from the rest of the pack. It's a tough stretch, but if this team is for real they'll play their best baseball now. Felix Doubront gets the ball to start it off tomorrow night in the Arlington heat. The Sox need much better starting pitching than they have been getting, and Doubront can set the tone.
It's been a trying season already for the Red Sox, plagued by injuries and clubhouse drama. But most of the pieces are back, minus David Ortiz for the time being, and it's time for this team to show what it truly is. There's no more time for excuses, not with the upcoming schedule.
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