Pssst. The Red Sox are five and a half games behind the Yankees.
A week ago, this scenario was pure science fiction. We’d be zipping around in space cars and dodging laser-equipped pigeons before it could happen.
But it did. And it’s here. And it’s pretty friggin’ cool.
Last night, the Sox won their sixth in a row, sweeping the Chicago White Sox with a 6-5 victory. And not just any victory. This one was a harrowing, nail-biting, ball-buster of a victory, highlighted by two of the most timely home runs of the season (Manny and Ortiz going back-to-back in the top of the eighth to tie the game and give us the lead, respectively) and Manny falling on his ass, missing a routine fly ball, and almost jeopardizing the game.
In the end, we were reminded that the Red Sox are now officially “all ass kicking, all the time.” They are all about timely hits and effective relief pitching and stellar defense (particularly the “new guys,” OC — think he’s missing the action in Montreal? — and Minty). They roll into town, smoking wherever the hell they please, sizing up the ladies and defending innocent villagers from marauding gangs of samurais, acid-fueled bikers and insurance salesmen. Tonight, they face Toronto, and I gotta believe that playing the rolling Sox right now is about as appealing to the Jays as a prostate exam from Captain Hook.
The Sox have won 12 of their last 15 and have cut the Yanks’ division lead in half. Of course, the Yanks helped out a lot, getting swept by the Angels (who are every bit as terrifying as the Sox right now) and dropping 6 of their last 10. Those games against the Yankees in September, which a couple weeks ago seemed likely to be the Sox playing New York’s AAA affiliate, are now looking to be a fan’s — and a ticket scalper’s — dream.
Of course, as is always the case with the Red Sox, there’s some cause for concern. Staked to an early 4-0 lead, Lowe couldn’t hold the fort, surrendering home runs to Paul Konerko and Carlos Lee to put Chicago ahead, albeit briefly. But the offense is so bombastic, so unrelenting, so get-on-the-floor-and-stay-there-biatch, the pitching staff can get away with murder at times. And on some nights, it has.
But to dwell on the negative is just so, y’know, negative. Last night was a game that, three weeks ago, we’d have let slip through our fingers. But we held on for the win, with Timlin (who still makes me as nervous as hell every time he steps on the mound) standing tall and getting two big outs with the go ahead run in scoring position. This is a team that is riding a wave right now, and as they splash down in Toronto for three games against the Blue Jays (20 games under .500) and then come home for Detroit, things are looking good. These are teams the Sox must feast on to prepare for their series against the Angels at Fenway (end of the month) and the September west coast swing.
Sure, we’re one game up on Anaheim and Texas for the Wild Card, but I say leave that for the Yanks. Pure imagination, perhaps. I should know better… but I just can’t help myself.