Red Sox Nation may not admit it, but they have been walking on egg shells for the last few weeks. We are nearly two years removed from the Boston Red Sox‘ epic collapse of 2011, but it is fresh in many fans’ minds particularly those who choose to forget the Bobby Valentine era. Just last night we were reminded that both the Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays had near identical records now as they did two years earlier when they started a three-game series at the Trop in Tampa, but as last night indicated, it isn’t 2011 anymore.
The Red Sox won the game 2-0 behind solid pitching by the return of an injured Clay Buchholz, who never quite made it back from his injury in ’11, and a solid bullpen led by their virtually flawless closer Koji Uehera. Two years ago the top two bullpen options for the Sox, Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard, combined for six blown saves in the month of October. This year Uehera has retired 31 straight. Instead of starting their climb up the standings the Rays dropped to 8.5 games out of first place with 16 left to play. The Red Sox’ magic number for clinching the division title is 10. It would take a collapse that would make the 2011 September Red Sox look like the 1927 New York Yankees for the Red Sox to miss the playoffs. They scattered seven wins over their ’11 September but this year have already won seven of the first nine.
It’s easy to see the difference in the two teams. The 2011 Red Sox were all business and they went out of business pretty abruptly. The 2013 version is a totally different animal. They play hard, play like a team and have each others backs. They are big game pitchers, clutch hitters, and sure-handed defenders. Consistency has been the best trait of this Red Sox squad. While many of them weren’t around for the epic collapse, many of them wear it as motivation to be better than that. They’ve also built a strong bond with the city of Boston after the Marathon Monday bombing. I’m not sure how far the Red Sox will go this season, but I do know one thing: If they don’t go all the way they are going to go down trying and they’ll do it together as a group.