As we’re about to hit May, the team with the best record in baseball?
The 18-7 Boston Red Sox.
As hard as it may be to believe, the Red Sox season might not be defined by David Ortiz dropping a click-friendly F-bomb to the crowd at the first game at Fenway Park after the Boston Marathon bombings last weekend.
Instead the Sox have quickly moved to erase the stink of last year’s 93-loss season.
The easy storyline here to develop and run with is how gosh darn happy the Red Sox players are now that maniacal dugout tyrant Bobby Valentine is gone, replaced by John Farrell. Clearly the only reason for Boston’s morbid 2012 campaign was that an abrasive manager was far too much of a burden for millionaire athletes to bear.
It’s much easier to forgot the massive underachievers (Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez ad Josh Beckett) Boston pawned off for 10 cents on the dollar to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer. Actually, that’s true. It is pretty easy to forgot Crawford and Gonzalez were ever on the Red Sox, despite each signing over $100 million contracts in December 2010.
If there’s a non-scapegoat reason to point to the Red Sox early success in 2013, it’s pitching. Last season the Sox didn’t have a starter with an ERA under 4.50. After about a month’s worth of games, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz look like the pitchers Boston fans remember. Buchholz flirted with a no-hitter earlier this month vs. Tampa and is 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA, while Lester is 4-0 with 2.27 ERA.
You have to hand it to Farrell, the club’s former pitching coach. He must be whispering a lot of sweet nothings in both their ears. (Or maybe Lester is fired up by KFC’s new boneless original recipe chicken.)
Beyond that, free agent signing Mike Napoli is second in the American League with 27 RBI, shaking off concerns about his dodgy hip. In eight games since coming off the disabled list Ortiz is slugging an absurd .871 with 11 RBIs in 31 at-bats. The slugging, portly duo is a big reason Boston’s run differential is +40 — double-digits better than anyone else in baseball.
It certainly way (way) too early to proclaim the Red Sox “back.” Boston’s record might be a tad inflated thanks to its four-game sweep of the woeful Astros over the weekend.
Still, Boston fans are embracing this squad and actually enjoying watching baseball again — a novel thought — after the nightmarish previous season and infamous 2011 September collapse. If the Sox can find a way to pawn off Alfredo Aceves, Boston fans might be all the way back.
Time to take the Pink Hats out of storage.