Red Sox Offense Hitting Stride at Perfect Time As Pitching Staff Still Tries to Find Its Way

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Red Sox Offense Hitting Stride at Perfect Time As Pitching Staff Still Tries to Find Its WayThe Red Sox offense is scoring runs at a torrid pace. Boston has scored 43 runs in the last five games after a 10-3 win over the White Sox in Chicago. It was the fifth time this season Boston scored 10 or more runs in a game, the most in the majors.

The lineup's timing couldn't be any better. With the uncertainty of the bullpen, the team needs every one of those runs. On Thursday the Sox built a 9-3 lead after five innings in Chicago, a seemingly comfortable cushion. But with visions of a blown 9-0 lead still fresh in everyone's mind, we held our breath and watched as Junichi Tazawa threw three scoreless innings for a save.

Tazawa has now thrown six scoreless innings for the Sox, and hasn't given up a run in 13 innings if you include his work with Pawtucket. Thursday night may have been a sign that he could be getting an increased role in the pen.

The Sox still have the highest ERA in baseball, but have won a season-high four straight games and are 7-5 since losing five of six games to start the season. They're still in last place, but are closing the gap on the rest of the AL East. Friday marks the fifth game in a stretch of 22 straight against teams that had losing records in 2011, so this is the time to make a move.

If the Sox are going to do it, they're going to do it by feasting on mediocre pitching. They've certainly done it of late. The top five hitters in the Sox lineup Thursday night finished with a batting average of .300 or better. With all the talk of the next crop of offensive stars on the horizon, it's nice to see the current lineup producing:

Kevin Youkilis, who was hitting .174 at the end of the homestand, has gone .333 with two homers and six RBI in the last seven games. After his second career grand slam Thursday night, we could talk about the third baseman of the present and not the third baseman of the future (Will Middlebrooks).

Jarrod Saltalamacchia had his first multiple HR game with the Sox on Thursday. He started the season 2-for-25, but is 10-for-21 with five extra-base hits and 7 RBI during a five-game hitting streak. The other catcher in the tandem, Kelly Shoppach, is hitting .333.  All of this means Ryan Lavarnway can continue to get more experience with Pawtucket. He's hitting .271 in AAA.

Mike Aviles has been the lead-off hitter in every game since Jacoby Ellsbury was injured on Friday the 13th. The shortstop is hitting .370 in that stretch (1.147 OPS) with 4 HR and 10 RBI. Now we understand why Ben Cherington traded Marco Scutaro, and sent Jose Iglesias back to Pawtucket to work on his swing. Iglesias is hitting .206.

There is more offense depth in Pawtucket then the Sox have had in awhile. That's good news. What's even better news is that the current big league lineup is producing, meaning that depth can stay intact and continue to improve as the Sox try to swing their way through the problems created by a still-shaky bullpen.

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