Prior to their run in with the Rays before the All-Star break, this team was rolling considering the injuries they did have with two indispensable components of the team, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Josh Beckett. Despite those guys missing a large chunk of the season they still managed to remain a game back of the Yankees in June, after starting 11-12 in the month of April. Then in a heap Clay Buchholz, Victor Martinez, and Dustin Pedroia all went down, and so did the Sox playoff chances as the margin between them, the Yankees and Rays widened game after game.
Two important things to consider after a tumultuous first-half, and the week after it; When healthy this team is as good as any in the league. Also, this team, Francona, and especially guys like Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald, who have been career journeymen farm players, and Bill Hall who has served an important role as a utility guy to fill the void at key positions, should all be applauded for giving this team a fighting chance when they all do get healthy.
It is miraculous to think that this team is even 4 games back in the loss column to Tampa, considering all of these things that have happened. The problem is, people have seemed to misunderstand the significance of all of this and mistaken the slippage as a lost opportunity to get a playoff bid. The last three weeks this team has put out lineups that would resemble the Pittsburgh Pirates roster with no-name guys like Eric Patterson, and Kevin Cash. The contributions from Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald, Kevin Youkilis, a David Ortiz who was written off by everyone, a solid pitching staff, and collection of other contributers has helped this team tread water for as long as they could.
Right now it is time to tread water a little bit longer. If this team manages to keep 5 games back in the ‘Wild Card’ after this road trip, and then get healthy altogether, then they have a fighter’s chance of making a playoff push.
Fans seemingly take their teams chances out of context, and do not give the team, and especially the manager the credit they deserve for overachieving. The Rays, and Yankees are at the top of their game right now, both having stellar rosters and a record to back it up. The Sox unfortunately ran into injury problems, and they do not have the luxury of being in any of the other divisions in baseball, to win 90 games and still make the playoffs.
Their season may be determined by what happens in these next 9 games out west, and they have done right so far by taking the first one in Oakland.