Red Sox Remain in Thick of Pennant Race After Offensive Outbursts in Toronto

Red Sox Remain in Thick of Pennant Race After Offensive Outbursts in Toronto It's been nearly two weeks since the non-waiver trade deadline, the day many Red Sox fans thought the team threw in the towel on the 2010 season.

The Sox didn't add a player to the 25-man roster that day, and actually cleared out a couple of spots on it when they traded away Ramon Ramirez and designated Jeremy Hermida for assignment.

The team, of course, said it had done no such thing. Theo Epstein said the day was "frustrating," but stressed that there was enough talent coming off the DL to boost the team into a playoff race before the end of the season.

Sure enough, three returning players stepped in to lead the way in an important 7-5 win over the Blue Jays Tuesday night. Jacoby Ellsbury had his first multi-hit game since returning from his rib injury, Jed Lowrie had a pair of RBI doubles, and Mike Lowell's fourth home run of the season broke open a tie game in the eighth inning.

For Lowell, the homer continued his improbable rise from the baseball ashes. This was a guy who couldn't get into the lineup for the first four months of the season. Now, with Kevin Youkilis done for the year after season-ending surgery, Lowell is playing nearly every day.

And, just like that, the Boston bandwagon is getting crowded. The Sox are now 4-2 to open their 10-game road trip and are closer to first place than they have been since before the All-Star break.

After struggling to find offense in New York, where they scored two runs in each of the last three games, the Sox have exploded for 17 runs in the last two games. Wednesday night's 10-run attack was the most they had scored in a game since July 9 at Toronto. The lineup suddenly seems deep, as evidenced by the four home runs hit by the Sox. Mike Lowell contributed three hits in the eruption.

The lineup will get deeper still when the Sox return home next week. Dustin Pedroia is set to return to the Sox on Tuesday when the Angels come to Fenway. He'll tune up with a pair of rehab games for Pawtucket over the weekend. Barring a setback, he'll be the second baseman when the homestand begins.

Of course, the Sox did make one significant trade at the deadline, acquiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia. That was expected to be a deal to help Boston for the long term, but "Salty" has been called up and will be behind the plate Thursday afternoon when John Lackey takes the mound.

It is a significant development. Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter with power and can add pop to the lineup when Lowell or Victor Martinez is out. There are questions concerning his defense, but it is offense that has been eluding the Sox.

Until now.

The Sox once again teed off on Toronto pitching the last two nights. As they say in the airline commercial, "It's on," and there's no question the Sox are back in the race.

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