AL East Standing: 1st
Weekly Record: 5-2
Current Record: 87-58
(Every weekend I will attempt to give some brief thoughts on the past week for the Boston Red Sox. It will be filled with hopes, frustrations, exhilaration, pain, and puns.)
That’s the amount of runs of the Red Sox have scored in the past 7 days, a clip of 8.4 runs per game. Of course three of those games went 3-0 (L), 2-1 (W), and 4-3 (L). In the other four games, the Red Sox scored 20 (!), 9, 12, and 13 runs against the Tigers and Yankees.
Yes, the much-feared and much-praised Red Sox lineup had one hell of a week. Some fun numbers? The Red Sox hit 17 home runs in that 4 game, 54 run stretch. 10 of those came from the bottom half of the lineup. Four of them came from Mike Napoli, he of the desert-dry June and August. Three of them were off of Will Middlebrooks (who hit another on Sunday against Mariano Rivera, no less, as well as providing the the Sox’s only two runs in a 2-1 win over Max Scherzer and the Tigers).
Going into Sunday’s game, the Red Sox were the first team to score at least nine runs in three straight days against the Yankees on their own turf in over 100 years. Most reassuringly, the Red Sox are showing off their depth. Over that same four game stretch, 14 different Red Sox players had an RBI. It struck me on Saturday’s game that neither Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, Stephen Drew, Jarrod Saltalamacchia nor Jacoby Ellsbury were playing, and they still won 13-9.
So why now? Yes, they were arguably the MLB’s most potent offense (sorry to Detroit, Los Angeles, and St. Louis) but why the sudden hitting spree? It’s hard to say. But there is one player, who has made a marked difference, and that’s Mike Napoli. In the last seven days, Napoli has hit .500 with 4 HR, 2 2B, and 9 RBI, while also cutting down on his strikeouts. In the last three years, Napoli’s stats have definitely taken a jump from August to September, but nothing like this. And Napoli, who’s always been huge in the clubhouse, is raising his team with him, as every player in the dugout is engaged, cheerful, and consumed with back-slapping, beard-pulling frenzy. Speaking of which…
Power Ranking: Red Sox Beards
This has been a long time coming. The Red Sox, for whatever reason, are going all out in their beard growing, their facial hair no more apparent than in the series against the universally clean-shaven Yankees. Gordon Edes has started calling the more hirsute Sox players the “Soggy Bottom Boys”, and the YES commentators couldn’t go 2 minutes without remarking on them. And frankly, I couldn’t be happier. If it works, it works, and I’m glad that what works is totally badass and makes the Sox look like a bunch of extremely lovable lumberjacks. But who has the best beard? Here’s a quick power ranking of the Top 9 Beards in the Red Sox clubhouse.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Miller
You know what’s even sadder than Andrew Miller being out for the season and the Sox not having his huge lefty arm out of the ‘pen? Andrew Miller being out for the season and not participating in this beardfest. I mean look at this.
9: Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
In the 9-spot is the recently injured Ellsbury, who by no means has an impressive beard. But just to see any facial hair on the perpetually young speedster is super endearing. Either Ellsbury is constantly trimming his stubble, or Ellsbury has had a 3 o’clock shadow for like, three months.
8: David Ortiz, DH
A stone-cold classic. No moustache, barely any on his chin, and no length at all. But his sideburns are works of art. Like triangles stretching all the way to the outside of his mouth, but not quite touching. Spectacular.
7: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
It’s hard to separate Salty’s beard from his hair. The two go together perfectly. Also is it just me, or does Salty look exactly like Matthew McConnaughey in Mud? Would it surprise anyone if McConnaughey walked into a bar after a day of surfing and meditating, saw Salty on the TV, and thought to himself “That’s what my character’s going to look like!” It’s just me, isn’t it?
6: Shane Victorino, RF
The Flyin Hawaiian’s beard kinda snuck up on me. Like his style of play, it’s not loud or crazy but perfectly formed, and efficient.
5: Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Pedroia fits perfectly in the 5-spot, because his beard is the baseline Soggy Bottom beard. Just like Pedroia sets the tone for the team with his hitting and effort in the field, his beard sets the tone for all other beards. Dark, full, but not insane. Bushier than Victorino, but not as crazy as the upper tier.
4: Mike Carp, 1B/LF
The most underrated beard on the Red Sox. That beard doesn’t stick out in the slightest, it drops straight down like a cliff face, which gives it a simultaneously tidy and bushy appearance. Plus, he’s a ginger, and as I noted in my plugging for the Red Sox to draft Clint Frazier, having a ginger in Boston can never hurt.
3: David Ross, C
And now the heavy hitters. David Ross’ beard is spectacular, and, since he was injured for so long, Ross’ beard also kinda snuck up on us. Brown sides, brown moustache, and then a glorious, long white streak right down the middle. I have no idea if it’s real. I don’t think it can be. But I don’t care.
2: Jonny Gomes, LF
The original. Gomes has a truly weird beard. Not much length, but it wraps all the way around his chin. That beard looks like it was made with a Wooly Willy.
1: Mike Napoli, 1B
Surprise, surprise. In the midst of all this beard frenzy, the one with the best beard is the one with the best offensive burst. An absolutely humongous beard. Viking-like, practically. Also, you can distinctly see his moustache growth within the beard, like they’re lying on top of his chin beard. All comes to a perfect point. The 2013 Red Sox team are the Louvre of beards. And Napoli is the Mona Lisa.
One-Up: Xander Bogaerts
Bogey had a great game on Saturday’s 13-9 win over the Yankees, going 2-4 with a double and his first major league home run, which was absolutely crushed into left field. Plus, he turned in some really nice plays at short. As opposed to the normal prospect cameos we often see in August/September, Bogaerts might actually make a noticeable impact on the Sox come playoff time.
One-Down: Jacoby Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury fractured his foot after fouling a ball off of it this weekend. John Farrell insists that Ellsbury should return this season, but it’s tough to imagine he’ll be anywhere near the same player, especially as someone who relies on his speed so much. This is something to monitor, especially as he’ll be looking for a new contract this winter.
One-Up: David Ortiz
Big shout-out to David Ortiz, who collected the 2,000th hit of his career during the Sox’s 20-4 romp over the Tigers. The hit in question was a nice RBI double to center, and was sandwiched between two huge home runs. Ortiz somehow continues to be one of the most feared hitters in baseball, and definitely belongs in the discussion as one of the top 3 Red Sox hitters ever.
One-Down: John Lackey
Sep. 2: 7.1 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5K, 0 Runs in Support, Loss
Sep.7: 5.2 IP, 7 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 12 Runs in Support, Win
This is very frustrating.
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