For a team that was described as being in an offensive slump just 3 weeks ago, the Red Sox have to be feeling better about their hitting now. After last night's win against the Marlins, the Red Sox improved to 4th most productive offense in the Majors, with 353 runs scored. That's more than any National League team at the moment (the Phillies are right behind them with 341 runs scored - 5th best in the Majors).
David Ortiz is out of his slump. Dustin Pedroia, who was always a tough out before and during his recent slump, is getting clutch hits again. And my favorite new member of the team, Rocco Baldelli, has been earning more playing time, getting more hits, and seems to have become a buddy of David Ortiz.The positive energy and chemistry in the clubhouse works both ways. It kept the Sox positive during a time when they were not living-up to expectations. And now it is boosting everyone's mood and motivation as the team is closer to reaching its full potential. And we know because the Red Sox are a deep team, there is still room for further optimization as they approach the halfway point of the season.
The Sox will switch to a six-man starting rotation next week with the addition of John Smoltz. Nick Green appears to have secured his spot on the 25-man roster as one of their two shortstops (the other being Julio Lugo). I would hope that the Red Sox keep the six man rotation through the All Star break, and then re-assess which one of them would better serve the team from the bullpen. The other advantage is that if one of them is injured or traded, the Sox will still have one of the best rotations in the Majors.
Speaking of the bullpen, it was upgraded in May. The Sox sent situational lefty Javier Lopez to Pawtucket to make room for big right-handed rookie Daniel Bard. I like Javier for doing a fine job between 2006-2008. But it seems this is the beginning of the end of his stint with the Sox. His 13 earned runs in 11.2 innings simply could not fit in a bullpen that good. And Daniel Bard has already made an impact. He has allowed 5 runs in 13.2 innings with 15 strikeouts. That translates to a very respectable 3.29 ERA (compared to Lopez' 9.26 ERA). Could this mean that the Sox might shop for a situational lefty? Probably not. That's because Hideki Okajima, who had all sorts of problems last season, is back to his reliable self this season.
The Sox are poised for a win streak to carry them through the end of June, and win streaks earn playoff berths.