The Red Sox showed the kind of hitting they will do this season, by getting two hits and no runs on Saturday and six homers and thirteen runs on Sunday. That’s our Red Sox.
But how about this? On Sunday “The Sox again played error-free baseball and have yet to make an error this season, the first time since 1957 they have gone the first six games without an E in the box score.” (ESPN.com). That is not our Red Sox, and it says a lot more about what to expect in 2013.
Currently the Red Sox have three center fielders in the outfield. The left side of the infield has been impenetrable. Bunting is no longer a guaranteed trip to first base. The Yankees were stopped cold from stealing bases by a vigilant pitching staff and David Ross. These are not our Red Sox.
First, Jose Iglesias has shown the folly of signing Stephen Drew at shortstop. He has sealed the left side of the infield and defensively alone, is worth a run a game. If he bats .240 over the season he will be a permanent solution to the revolving door at shortstop. What a pleasure to breathe freely when a ball is hit sharply to the left.
Second, Will Middlebrooks has out-hustled every bunt and dribbler down the third base line and has vacuumed up the hard shots as well. Not advertised for his glove, he has made a lot of big plays for one week. He has also played shallow right field in the over-shift with success. (The Red Sox now have as many defensive alignments as the Patriots). Oh yeah, Middlebrooks hit three home runs in one game, but he was expected to do that. (Sort of).
The sight of David Ross nailing two Yankee base-runners on Wednesday was a thrill with an exclamation point. If the Red Sox can clamp down on base theft this season, it will change the whole complexion of their defense. Whether Saltalamachia can follow Ross’s example would be one unanswered question for 2013.
The biggest problem in the outfield is Victorino’s giving way to Ellsbury on a fly ball to right center. The speed out there is mind-boggling, when you consider some of the flatfoots the Sox have put in left and right field in years gone by. Now they have outfielders overlapping each other on every play.
It all points to a cohesive team that takes pride in the fundamentals. David Ortiz is kidding them and cheering them from his perch on the bench. Jonny Gomes moves in and out of the line-up with the same day-to-day enthusiasm. Victorino comes out of the dugout firing and always grabs the extra base, even the close ones he doesn’t quite make. This is not your father’s Red Sox team.
O.K. it’s only a week and six games, but they were all on the road! A 4 and 2 road trip must be appreciated. But most of all, the fundamentals! A solid defense and aggressive offense shows a side of the Red Sox we could get used to.