Editor’s note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
It was a loss, but it was still a win — a three-game series win over the Detroit Tigers home at Fenway.
Coming off another series win in the (un)friendly confines of the Bronx against the New York Yankees, the Red Sox have still won four of there last five games, remain a couple games clear of the .500 mark and still feel like they have a little momentum as they welcome in the Minnesota Twins for a four-game set.
And that’s really the name of the game at this point — winning series. There’s still enough time left in the season where the Sox don’t necessarily need to go on an Moneyball-like streak of consecutive wins, but they cannot afford to lose series at this point and put themselves in a bigger hole. As much of a cliche as it is, Boston just needs to take things one game at a time.
However, after facing two tough ballclubs in New York and Detroit (and getting through Tigers ace Justin Verlander for the second time on the season, as well), the Sox have a bit of an easier schedule coming up. They’ll be facing Minnesota and Cleveland, albeit with the Texas Rangers sandwiched in between. The hope would be for the Red Sox to put a few wins on the board during those sets, and perhaps try to steal a series from the Rangers.
But even in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to Detroit, it didn’t feel like the kind of one-sided contest that had gotten the Sox down in previous weeks. Rather, the team managed to get within a single run — after Carl Crawford‘s solo home run — after going down by as much as five after starter Aaron Cook more or less imploded in the fifth inning.
But it showed a previously-missing character on the part of the Sox to work themselves back into the game.
“I was real proud of the way the guys battled in that game,” said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine afterwards. “That’s another series win. We won a couple series against tough teams … if we keep winning series we’re going to be just fine.”
At this point there is much that is out of the Red Sox’ control. If Los Angeles (of Anaheim) continues to play well, and another team (say, the A’s, who just completed a 19-5 July) does too, then in all likelihood Boston is going to be out of the playoff picture no matter what they do. However, if no one pulls away in the chase for the second wild card, then the Sox are as much in it as any team.
The first order of business for the Red Sox is to continue to display the kind of character they showed in Wednesday’s loss. Likewise, there aren’t going to be many nights — especially with David Ortiz‘s imminent return — where the offense is going to be held down completely. If the starting pitching can hold up its end of the bargain, this could be a team to reckon with, especially with a little confidence on its side. That being said, that may be a lot to ask of a rotation that features an injured Josh Beckett, an inconsistent Jon Lester and the newly gopher-ball-prone Aaron Cook.
But that’s getting way out ahead of everything. If the Red Sox can take things one game at a time, and continue to win series, they’re still capable of being dangerous.