Boston will look to put the finishing touches on what they hope will be a momentum-swinging road trip with two more in Baltimore before returning home. If they do come home on a winning note, it will almost certainly have to do with continued improvements from the Red Sox pitching.
The Sox' improvements on the mound start with the starting rotation, and because of that, the bullpen looks even better as well. Bobby Valentine is getting his chance to juggle the bullpen and help develop roles for his relievers.
Don Orsillo touches on that and more in his weekly mailbag below.
Do you think Yaz's Triple Crown will be matched this season after 45 years?
— Mike Carbone
I have not seen a player in the past that had the rare ability to get this done until now. I do think Josh Hamilton has a shot. He is amazing and has the motivation this year to have the best year of his career all the way around. He is playing for a new contract this year. The one issue is health. Because he plays so hard, he generally ends up on the disabled list or plays an extended amount of time hurt which would lower his overall production. All of that said, he has best chance anyone has had in a long time.
Do you see the Red Sox making any midseason additions near the trade deadline?
You may see more before the deadline time based on all the injuries the Red Sox currently have, especially in the outfield. The one thing to look for this year that is different from years past is that teams will not be moving guys as readily because there will be many more teams in the playoff hunt since a second wild card has been added to each league. This gives several cities the chance to be in contention longer into the season as well. The waiver deals may end up far more significant than ever before as teams drop out in late August and September.
Which AL East team is going to give the Red Sox the most trouble for the rest of the season? Right now, who is looking good enough to win the division?
— Lee Copeland Jr.
Surprisingly, not the team that I thought when the season started. I felt the Yankees would win the division, and they may still win it with so much season left. The more I see of the Rays I think they have as good a shot as anybody to win the division because it's all about pitching. The Red Sox are on a pretty good run and it is because for the most part the starting rotation has improved drastically with the exception of Clay Buchholz. As a result, the bullpen is more rested and the offense can continue to score runs and the pitching is holding leads that they were not before. So long answer short, I think the the Rays will provide the most issues for the Sox as the year progresses.
Do you think that Bobby V is going old school with his pitching staff? When will Jacoby Ellsbury be back?
— Cynthia Lowe
I think he is mixing and matching to do whatever it takes to win games. We have seen him start with matchups as early as the sixth inning and over the past 10 days, and it has worked. The one thing you worry about is overusing your 'pen this early in the season. It helps when the starters can give you at least six strong and then you can use your relievers in the roles they were intended to be in.
The latest on Jacoby Ellsbury is that he could be back by early July.
What is the best part about being the TV play-by-play voice of the Boston Red Sox?
All of it. I have wanted this job since I was 12, and every aspect is what I hoped it would be and continues to be even in my 12th season. Some of the best parts are the extra parts like hosting on-field events and ceremonies. I have to say that hosting Tim Wakefield Day at Fenway last week was right up there as one of the best events I have been a part of. He is a great friend and is truly remarkably impacted the Red Sox organization on the field but maybe more so off the field and in the community.