The Red Sox are now fully entrenched in their last quarter of the season as they open up a 3 game series against Baltimore before heading back on the road. Boston split a 4 game series with Cleveland to maintain their 4.5 game lead over NYY. The Yankees will presumably be without some of their starting players in upcoming games, including C Gary Sanchez, due to their roles in Thursday's brawl with the Tigers, so wins are for Boston are even more valuable. With their next 16 games coming against AL East opponents the Sox have an opportunity to make a statement and move way ahead in the division. In order to do that, they're going to need all hands on deck, but who's hands will be able to contribute?
David Price, on the other hand, is still on the DL and isn't scheduled to be activated until Mid-September. That's IF everything goes well from now until then. Price is scheduled to throw from 120 feet today and the medical and coaching staff will meet with him in the coming days to review his health and how he's feeling mentally. I cannot express how deeply the Sox need Price in October. Honestly, I know those who are reading this will throw out his playoff record, his demeanor toward the Boston media, and everything else you guys tell yourselves to convince each other that David Price is not good -- But I'm here writing this to tell you that with backs against the wall, do or die, must win...would you rather have E-Rod, Fister or Price on the mound? The trolls will say Fister. The haters will say E-Rod. The realists will say Price. Wouldn't you want him to come back and pitch well? Don't you realize that's what could send this team over the edge? They'd absolutely bring the best rotation into the playoffs, AL OR NL, having Price slotted 3rd or 4th. No question or debate about it.
In addition to JBJ, Matt Barnes was placed on the DL after Monday's game in Cleveland with a lower back strain. I'm not sure how many of us actually believe it, considering Matt Barnes himself stated after the game he felt good. I am on the side of thinking that John Farrell needed a scapegoat for how poorly he managed that game and sent Matt Barnes packing for a week and a half. Would he actually do that? Yeah, probably. Either way, the Sox are down an arm in the bullpen during this huge stretch against divisional opponents. Any weakness is a bad weakness and the Boston could really use the injuries to stop piling up.
Especially to the damn stars of the Red Sox. Pedroia, Price, JBJ and now....Mooooookie? Nooooooo. I get why Mookie plays the way he does. An undersized second baseman converted OF, the obvious 2016 MVP even though he finished in 2nd place, Mook has a chip on his shoulder. He plays hard, runs hard, swings hard, throws hard, bowls hard and his Rubix Cube game is the hardest they come. Mookie's on-field personality is one that I wish all the Sox players had. It's also the reason he nearly broke his whole body Thursday night in the late innings of the Sox loss to the Indians. Cleveland was scorching the ball all over the place from the very first inning, but when the game was all but over, and Cleveland had close to a 1000 run lead, there was Mookie...flinging his body all over RF. On a ball that not even Usain Bolt could catch up to in the 6th inning, Betts ran full speed to it only to watch it land, hit the fence and fly back over his head toward the infield. He was moving at such an accelerated speed that Mookie had to use both of his hands to brace himself for the impact that was about to occur. Remarkably, Mookie was able to collect the baseball and fire it back into Bogaerts while avoiding injury.
If Betts ends up missing any time, I'd expect Benny to resume his role in LF, Rajai Davis to play CF and Brock Holt or Chris Young to play RF. Obviously playing the wall at Fenway is a big factor and that's why I'd have Benintendi play in left this series. since he's been there all year. Needless to say, the Red Sox were turning the corner on the injuries they had sustained in the offseason and early on this season, but that Cleveland series took its toll. You can't predict injuries, but you can certainly take the necessary steps to try to prevent them. Let's hope the Sox stop doing so much damage to themselves and start doing more damage to their opponents.
Photo Credit - Associated Press