Red Sox Put Exclamation Point on Wild First Half With Come-From-Behind Win Over Orioles


Jul 10, 2011

Red Sox Put Exclamation Point on Wild First Half With Come-From-Behind Win Over Orioles The Red Sox saw the lowest of lows early on this season, and now they're seeing the highest of highs — at least until October, when this team could very well be playing for its third World Series title in eight seasons.

Ok, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

But if you're a Red Sox fan, it's hard not to be optimistic going forward, especially considering where the team is now in relation to where it was at the beginning of the season.

It took until the seventh game, the team's home opener, for the Sox to record their first win. They started off 2-10 overall and didn't reach the elusive .500 mark until May 15 against the Yankees, when they rallied from an early 4-1 deficit to win, 7-5, and put their record at 20-20.

Fifty games later, after a 35-15 run, the Sox' record stands at 55-35 overall, tops in the American League and second only to the Philadelphia Phillies for the best record in baseball. More importantly, it's good enough to give them a one-game edge on the Yankees and a six-game lead on the Rays in the competitve AL East.

Fifty games later, it's their ability to find ways to win games — even if it isn't pretty — that has them rolling into the break. The Sox have won six straight and 10 of their last 11 as we take a breather for the Midsummer Classic.

And in a sense, the Red Sox' four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles to close out the first half is a microcosm of their season as a whole.

They've had to fight, literally and figuratively, to get to the position that they're in right now. Sunday's contest was no different.

With Kyle Weiland making his major league debut, the Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning behind a David Ortiz RBI single and a sac fly from Josh Reddick.

But as quickly as the Sox built their lead, it evaporated. Derrek Lee blasted a two-run home run into the Monster seats in left to tie the game in the top of the second, kick-starting a six-run frame for the O's.

At that point, it would have been easy to write off Weiland and the rest of the Sox, but if this season has proved anything, it's that this team can pile on runs at the drop of a hat.

The Sox used three second-inning home runs — struck by Marco Scutaro, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis — to push across four runs and tie the game at six.

After Jeremy Guthrie plunked Youkilis on the elbow with a changeup in the fourth, prompting warnings to be issued to both dugouts, Ortiz worked a bases-loaded walk to give the Sox a 7-6 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.

The Sox could have folded when Weiland got torched in the second inning. Or they could have fallen apart when he and Terry Francona were ejected after Weiland hit Vladimir Guerrero in the fifth inning. Or they even could have let emotions get the best of them when Orioles reliever Michael Gonzalez threw behind Ortiz in the bottom of the sixth, resulting in him and O's manager Buck Showalter getting ejected.

But instead, Tito's crew kept on trucking, just as they have since the start of the season.

Three no-hit innings from the versatile Alfredo Aceves, a perfect eighth from Daniel Bard and a Jonathan Papelbon save later (all staples in this season's wild ride), the Sox ensured that they'd be the team sitting atop the AL East alone heading into the All-Star break.

It hasn't been easy for the Red Sox to get where they are, and there's still plenty of baseball to be played. But after a dismal start, they are firing on all cylinders, and it's hard to imagine that trend not continuing as they get healthier down the stretch.

At the very least, though, Red Sox fans should expect this team to show a great deal of fight, especially if and when the going gets tough.

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