A winning streak! After losing 9 of their last 11 – with 5 of those loses coming at home – the Sox began what could have become a brutal road trip. A trip from Boston all the way south into Florida followed up immediately with a trip back north across the entire country to Minnesota. To add to the misery, they were without a travel day mixed in which meant the Sox were set up for a lot of baseball with little rest.

Yet, instead, it seems as if a road trip was just what the BoSox needed. They quickly took 2 of 3 in Tampa Bay; the third in absolutely thrilling fashion against everyone’s favorite archer, Fernando Rodney. They flew north and battled back to force extra innings tonight and took the first game of a three game set with the pesky Minnesota Twins.

Dustin Pedroia (Kelly O’Conner — www.sittingstill.net)

Aside from beating up on Tampa Bay’s bullpen after an ailing David Price left the game with a strained triceps, the Sox have clawed and scratched their way back into the win column. And, honestly, it has been refreshing to see.

On Thursday night the Sox unselfishly and patiently drew 4 walks off Rodney which eventually led to Middlebrooks bases clearing double. Tonight the Sox again played unselfish baseball. This time it was Middlebrooks who did his job by laying down an absolutely perfect bunt to advance Pedroia and Ciriaco into scoring position. After Stephen Drew was intentionally walked, Jonny Gomes lifted a fly ball into left center allowing Pedroia to tag and score the go ahead and game winning run.

Why is this so significant? It proves that the Red Sox know how to win and they are willing to do whatever it takes to do so. I’m not so sure Kevin Youkilis (as much as we all love him) lays down a bunt in Middlebrooks’s situation. I’m not so sure Carl Crawford gets a pitch he can handle and gives himself up on a sacrifice fly as Gomes did.

Maybe I’m grasping for straws here, but this team, you guys. Koji Uehara’s emphatic celebrations after a clean inning, Pedroia’s profane laced rants at himself during the middle of an inning after a poor AB, Ellsbury begging his manager not to be benched against a LHP, Napoli and his disregard for buttons on a uniform, Daniel freaking Nava, Victorino literally running through walls. I can go on and on.

At the end of the work day when 7:10 rolls around I get excited. And to think, at the beginning of this year absolutely none of us knew what to expect. Well, I think we finally know. Playoffs or not this team is going to be fun to watch for the next 120 games. Let’s be thankful for that.

3 Up

Dustin Pedroia

After reflecting on some of my previous articles I was stunned to find that Pedey had not made it on either list this season. I guess that is good since he has quietly just been doing his job. However, tonight the Sox second baseman made some noise with his glove reminding everyone why he is so valuable. The first batter of the game smoked a rocket line drive up the middle. It was a sure hit until Pedroia, out of nowhere, dove to his right, stabbed it on the first hop and fired to get Dozier at first. It was a gold glove play. 

Oh, and by the way Pedroia is hitting .335 with a .423 OBP. The power will come.

Will Middlebrooks

A night after hitting his 7th homer, Middlebrooks delivered the biggest hit of his Red Sox career. With two outs and the bases loaded against Fernando Rodney, Middlebrooks laced a curveball for, an eventual game winning, bases clearing double. It was the first time the Sox had come from behind while trailing after the 8th inning. Not only did it win the series for the Red Sox over the Rays, but it was a much needed swing of momentum going into Minnesota.

David Ortiz

Ok, Shank is ridiculous and we all despise him. Enough about that.

Since May 11 and the six games since then, Ortiz has 7 hits, 6 RBI, and a HR. I think it is safe to say he is out of his slump. He also has 23 RBI in the 23 games he has played this season so there’s that.

3 Down

Jacoby Ellsbury

Ells is buried in one of the worst slumps of his career and has seen his average plummet from .290 to .247 in the last 12 games. He is hitting just .188 in the month of May with only 2 steals in that span. It is not a coincidence that the Sox slide was in the same time frame as Ellsbury’s slump. The Sox need him to break out of this funk as soon as possible.

Fantasy baseball alert! Buy Low now!

Joel Hanrahan

Tommy John surgery. Out for the season. Probably will never see him again in a Red Sox uniform as he is a free agent after this season. Curse of Jon Papelbon?

Ryan Dempster

After being Mr. Consistent this year, Dempster was rocked on Sunday in Toronto for 6 runs on 7 hits — 3 of which were home runs through 5 innings. It is probably nothing to worry about. I’m sure the Sox would be thrilled if Dempster kept his ERA at its current 3.75 mark. If so, it would be a successful sign for everyone involved.