The Red Sox won their seventh consecutive game today as Daniel Nava hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth. It’s been quite a while since we’ve watched a Red Sox team play quite this well, and as such, I wanted to list out the aspects of this season that have me the most excited, as well as my irrational hopes for the team going forward. Positivity is a good thing, after all.
This should be … interesting.
1 – Clay Freaking Buchholz. What can I say? He’s yet to go fewer than 7 innings in a start, he hasn’t given up more than two runs in one, he’s striking out almost a batter an inning, and he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last start. He’s on pace for 304 IP, 294 K, and 41 wins which, you know, seems pretty reasonable.
2 – Jon Freaking Lester. He hasn’t been quite on Buchholz’ level, but Lester has had a tremendous start to the season in his own right. As a matter of fact, so have all of the starting pitchers. You know what…
3 – Starting Freaking Pitching. No starter has given up more than three runs in a start. Ryan Dempster has a 13.4 K/9. John Lackey is in the best shape of his career (or something). Even Alfredo Aceves has been not-entirely-awful in a couple of spot starts. It’s obviously not going to stay like this all season, but this column is not the place for logic or reason. It’s been so long since we’ve watching a pitching staff like this, you guys.
4 – Daniel Nava is some kind of wizard. He hit is fourth home run of the season yesterday, and it just happened to be a three-run, go-ahead shot to beat Kansas City. He now has 14 RBIs on the year and a triple-slash of .342/.460/.684. I’ve loved Nava since I watched live as he took Joe Blanton deep on the first pitch of his major league career for a grand slam, and he’s been impossible not to root for ever since. He’s been a perpetual bubble guy when it comes to making the major league roster, but as far as I’m concerned, I want him on the major league team as long as possible. He’s earned it. Jack Keller wrote an excellent piece on exactly this just last week, and you should read it.
5 – Shane Victorino has been even better than you might think. He’s currently leading the position players in fWAR (0.6), and he’s done everything we hoped he would. His Fangraphs fielding rating is currently fourth in all of baseball at 4.0 and he’s batting .311 with a .377 OBP. The power has been nonexistent – he has only one hit for extra bases – and he’s been terrible against left-handed pitching – .235/.350/.235 – but if he can continue to get on base and play plus defense in right field, he’ll turn out to be one of Boston’s better moves of this offseason.
6 – Will Middlebrooks had a hit yesterday.
7 – David Ortiz has posted a statline of .500/.500/.500 so far this season. Much like Buchholz’s numbers, I’m certain this is completely sustainable.
8 – Junichi Tazawa has been phenomenal this year, allowing only one run (a solo homer) in his eight innings pitched. Additionally, Koji Uehara remains one of the game’s most underrated relievers, having not allowed a run in the early going. Andrew Bailey has looked like his former self while closing games in the absence of Joel Hanrahan. Clayton Mortensen is still quietly doing his own thing, as well. The bullpen has been very good early, and will likely continue to be for the rest of the season.
9 – Back to Middlebrooks, his Twitter account is the best Boston athlete Twitter out there. Following athletes on Twitter is generally a mixed bag, as sometimes they can become just a funnel of PR-monitored tweets. Middlebrooks, though, is an example of Twitter done right. His humor and his frequent interactions with fans are something special. I strongly recommend any Sox fans with a Twitter account follow him, and I do that despite the fact that he retweeted a Ted parody account yesterday (that’s usually a dealbreaker). That’s just how good it is.
10 – Just take a gander at the AL East standings, why don’t you?
Quick Takes for the Week
I’m going to forego my usual notes for this week in favor of some more important thoughts on a more serious note.
It’s been a tumultuous week for the city of Boston, and I would like to say that my thoughts are with everyone affected by the week’s events.
It’s always difficult to pick everything up again after a tragedy like this, but the response from the city of Boston and its people speak volumes to their strength and character. It’s easy to get caught up on the evil in the world in times like these, but I’ve heard it said that they also bring out the best in it, and I think we saw that on display in Copley Square on Monday and in Watertown on Thursday and Friday. The actions of the first responders at the marathon and the heroics of the Boston PD and the FBI involved in bringing those responsible to justice was truly remarkable.
If there’s anything to be taken away from all of this, it’s that.
So it’s now time to pick up the pieces and move forward, and I have no doubt that Boston will do just that. I’ve seen how passionate the people of Boston can be for their sports franchises, and that passion transcends sport – it’s a reflection of the city’s community as a whole. I’ve only written here at Fire Brand for a short time, but I’ve gotten a first-hand glimpse into that community, and I can say it’s been an honor to have that opportunity. I may be an outsider – I live in Virginia – but I have nothing but admiration for Boston and its citizens.
The people of Boston truly are Boston Strong, and if anybody could come out of a week like this stronger than they were before, my money would be on them. Thank you for reading.