Just a day ago, the Red Sox felt like a team lacking confidence, unsure of its identity or whether it was capable of making a playoff run.
Well, what a difference a day makes.
Granted, it was an effort behind their best pitcher in Clay Buchholz, but the Red Sox came out Monday night and played something that came much closer to resembling vintage Boston baseball, getting a great effort from the 27-year-old right hander and some power to back him up. Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks provided the home runs on this evening, with Pedroia's breaking a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning.
"Dustin hit a two-strike pitch that not many guys hit out of the ballpark, that's for sure," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after his team's 7-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers. "That was basically the name of the game."
For the first time in what felt like weeks, the Sox went into the latter stages of a tie game with a certain quiet confidence, and without that feeling of impending doom. Rather, it just seemed like someone would eventually come through, that Buchholz would continue to keep the team in it, and that's exactly what happened.
Even when Alex Avila doubled home Brandon Boesch in the top of the seventh, there was no panic from the Red Sox or sense that the wheels were about to come off. Instead, Buchholz slammed the door on Detroit by getting Omar Infante to pop out and Austin Jackson to line out, holding Boston's lead.
And then the offense did the rest to put the game out of reach behind a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI single — following a rare-as-the-dodo Kelly Shoppach triple — and Middlebrooks' line drive shot over the Monster. The only thing left was for Vicente Padilla to put the finishing touches on the win with a scoreless ninth.
So, once again, the Red Sox find themselves a game over the .500 mark, and — for what seems like the millionth time this season — look to use that mark as a jumping point to turn around their season, play a sustained streak of good baseball and make up some ground in the wild car chase. And, though it's probably a dangerous limb to go out on, this time Boston may have turned that corner. At least that's the impression the team made on Monday.
All season fans have been waiting for the Sox to regain their swagger and play a brand of baseball that's based off of confidence, the knowledge that someone on the roster is going to come through and help earn a win. Well, the Red Sox sure looked that have that spring in their step in moving back over .500.