With the wild card still not clinched, the Red Sox have taken a hit from the injury bug with their top two starters going down over the last week. Now it's up to the Red Sox to get back on track and get all of their pieces in place for the ALDS against the Angels.
September has been a microcosm of the Red Sox’ season — hot one week, cold the next. Either the team is pressing too much to wrap up the wild card, or they are not pressing enough. Which do you think it is?
— Frank, Braintree, Mass.
It has been a strange year in that regard. I guess in a result-based business the end result is to get to the postseason, and it appears that will be taken care of on Tuesday. I do agree there were ups and downs and few real complete runs of dominance. The attention now shifts though to a short series where the results come much faster. I think you have to look at the home-road split as one real area of dominance. While the road ended up under .500 the home record of thirty over is huge. The weekend in New York was certainly discouraging. I don’t think they are pressing but do think that it would be nice to wrap it up sooner rather than later so they can rest many of the regulars.
Are the Red Sox concerned that Josh Beckett had to miss a start because of back spasms?
— Michelle, Newton, Mass.
If they are they hiding it very well. To the point where last night Terry Francona said should this have been a playoff game, Josh Beckett would have started. I think at this time of year no one is healthy but in this instance you would always err on the side of caution and that's what they did. I guess it is always a concern when your ace or one of your aces misses a start at any point, but I do believe this is just being careful. Better to rest now than during the ALDS.
Seeing Jon Lester get hit with a line drive off the bat of the Melky Cabrera was scary. Thankfully, Lester is fine physically. But how is he mentally? Could something like getting hit with the ball impact a pitcher psychologically?
— Rick, Providence, R.I.
You really do not know until he gets back out there. You hear from so many hitters after being hit in the head or high up that it takes them a while to be comfortable again. We saw first hand with Matt Clement, albeit in the head, to be right again and I am not sure he ever was. This was a leg and that happens more regularly. I think the important thing is he dodged a pretty serious bullet. If that hits the knee cap we are talking serious damage. The extended side session went very well I think he will be fine. I think his mental toughness has been proven on more than one occasion especially if you factor in what he has overcome off the field from his battle with cancer.
What is the Red Sox’ biggest weakness? Can they overcome it?
— Pete, Manchester, N.H.
Base stealers. I am fearful that the Angels will run and run at will. We have seen this season an inability to contain or slow down the running game. We saw a Yankees team run this past Friday with seven stolen bases. I think that could be an issue especially against L.A. Beyond that I think the Red Sox match up pretty well against anybody. The bullpen has been so solid all year but now have had some blips. Manny Delcarmen has been a surprise and one wonders if he will now be on the roster. The other question that remains is the health of Mike Lowell. Will this recent round of shots do the trick? Can he play through the playoffs this year? A lot of questions. We will know some answers soon.
Who do you think deserves to win the AL Cy Young and AL MVP? And why?
— John, Walpole, Mass.
Cy Young I have flip-flopped on a few times but now believe it should be Zack Greinke. Having finally seen him and looking at what his numbers are with a bad Kansas City team, and with limited to no run support, to me he is the CY Young. AL MVP Joe Mauer, hitting at .371 with 28 home runs, has my vote.