Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 148: Red Sox Take Two From Dodgers, I Call That Success!

On June 22nd, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 9.5 games out of first place and dead last in the National League West. On August 26th, their story is a little different. That same team—the hottest team in baseball—now has a commanding 9.5 game league in the NL West after going 46-12 since June 22. And this past weekend, another hot team headed to the City of Angels to face some old teammates.

The Red Sox came into the weekend series in a tiny August slump, but had just taken two of three from the SF Giants so they were on a little bit of a roll. Unfortunately for the Sox, the fiery Dodgers continued on their tear and prevailed Friday night in a pitchers' duel decided by a single two-run home run by former Red Sox prospect, Hanley Ramirez. The Sox bats were held to just two singles and John Lackey took yet another tough loss.

On Saturday, things turned around and Jon Lester earned his 12th win behind a four-run first inning—all the runs the Sox would need. Lester pitched 7.1 innings, giving up just one run while striking out six. And it appears that Mike Napoli's bat is starting to come around, going 3-for-4 in the effort. Jonny Gomes hit a three run home run in the first to put the game away. And let's not discuss the horrific base running blunder by Jacoby Ellsbury in the top of the attention kids, don't let this happen to you. Luckily, it had no effect on the game's outcome.

But the gem of the weekend happened on the first anniversary of the historic trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers on August 25, 2012. It was a ballsy trade, but one that turned the financial future of Boston around and allowed them to make deals in the off-season to better the attitude and atmosphere in the team's clubhouse. The nine-player deal saw $200 million in salaries change hands. The Red Sox unloaded the ridiculously enormous contracts of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, as well as the ridiculously enormous head of Josh Beckett. Good riddance, I said.

So what better way to celebrate such a significant day in Red Sox history, than with a convincing win over their old friends. Jake Peavy pitched his best game to date in a Sox uniform—a complete game, three hitter. He allowed just one run and struck out five. On the other side of the ball, the Sox pounded out eight runs on 12 hits, including round-trippers from Saltalamacchia, Victorino and Napoli. Not a bad way to finish off the short west coast swing.

The Red Sox returned home to an off day today, and then play the Orioles, White Sox and Tigers at friendly Fenway. With just 30 games left of the 2013 season, I can honestly say I never imagined this team would be in first place. But I'll take it!

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