After a brief midseason break, the Red Sox are back and better than ever.
The first-place squad is clicking on all cylinders as they’ve won three in a row heading into Tuesday night’s game with the Orioles.
Lets’ get into this week’s mailbag.
Why has Josh Beckett been so good, and is this his best run?
–John, Tampa Bay
I am happy to see how well Josh has pitched in 2011, as I think over the past few years fans started to wonder a little. He didn’t look himself in recent years and I think it’s because he wasn’t healthy. His swagger is back his fire is back and he is dealing now that he’s healthy. I think Red Sox Nation was concerned when he did not pitch in the All-Star game but now there are no worries after his latest outing in Tampa Bay. I sort of have the same feelings I did when Pedro Martinez pitched every five days. It is now must-see TV as fans now expect him to shut lineups down, no matter who he is facing. His best two outings arguably have been against the Rays but the Yankees outing on Sunday night early in the season was just as good. The only thing I can compare it to is 2007, especially in the postseason.
Will Josh Reddick see more time with his recent success?
–Kara, Tempe, Ariz.
I think he will. It may come at the expense of J.D. Drew because Carl Crawford is now back and going to play every day in left. J.D. has really struggled this season and has not caught fire. I think Terry Francona has been patient in waiting for that one run that Drew generally makes every year when he can carry a team like he did in June a few years back. It has not yet happened and the play of Josh Reddick has been solid and getting better. This is a guy who saw many others pass over him to Boston last year. He took a step back in the offseason and figured out what he needed to do differently and has certainly been doing whatever that is and is now a dangerous major leaguer. He is forcing the hand of Francona for more time with his play.
Do you feel MLB handed down the suspensions of David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg to purposely keep them out of the Sox-O’s series?
–Lou, Cambridge, Mass.
I don?t think there is any question about it. Suspensions generally can take weeks to be handed down and then if there is an appeal that process takes longer and both sides are heard from. The fact that it happened in one week’s time, when you consider that the All-Star Game was mixed in, is at the speed of light compared to other situations over the years. I also think it is a good thing to have these guys out of the mix at least for now as there are plenty of games left in the season series. I get the impression the Orioles are not over this, not to mention they continue to get pounded by the Sox. I really don?t think this is over from an Orioles stand point.
Do you think Carl Crawford will improve now that he’s healthy?
–Gary N. Gody, New York City
I think so. I really think this time off, while not what he wanted health-wise, was a good thing for Carl. He could kind of step back and take a deep breath. I think this contract and his change in teams was a lot to take for him and it snowballed on him to begin the season. Where Adrian Gonzalez started well and took all the pressure off himself, Carl went the other way and started bad and could not get out of the funk. He showed positive signs on occasion and has had some big hits and a few walkoffs but has not been consistent. I do think his mindset has changed after stepping away and coming back to the team after his time on the DL. He is too good of a player to continue to play the way he was in the beginning. I think relaxing and letting his natural talents take over will be the key.