Despite the fact that the Boston Red Sox seem to be dropping like flies for the second straight year, they remain just one half game behind the hated Yankees for first place in the American League East. They are set to begin a four game stretch at home against the Baltimore Orioles before hitting the All-Star Break. The Red Sox recently lost staff ace Jon Lester to a strained lat muscle on Tuesday night while he was fielding his position. Lester has been placed on the disabled list, and presumably will be back a few weeks after the break.
This injury could not have come at a worse time for the Sox, as Clay Buchholz continues to nurse a sore back, and John Lackey (5-8, 7.47 ERA) continues to get hit around like batting practice. The pitching staff will have to continue to get good performances from Josh Beckett, Andrew Miller, and Tim Wakefield in the meantime.
While there may be no hope for Lackey, who has faced questions about injuries himself, the rest of the staff has been solid. Alfredo Aceves, who has been up-and-down, will also get a few starts. In other Sox injury news, there is LF Carl Crawford and his hamstring. Crawford seemed to finally be putting it together before he pulled it, and will most likely return at Baltimore in a couple of weeks. His addition could help compensate for the lackluster J.D. Drew, who could be pushed out of the lineup by Josh Reddick in the final year of his deal. Many question if Drew has check out already and is alreasy retired in his own mind. Marco Scutaro also continues to play decently in the absence of oft-injured shortstop Jed Lowrie.
Even though the Red Sox had a horrendous start to the year, and have had numerous injuries that would kill the chances of a lesser team, they are in prime position to return to the postseason. As long as Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis stay hot, they should be able to stave off the Tampa Bay Rays, who seem like the only legitimate threat at the Sox’ chance at the Wild Card.