In their first series during the month of May, the Boston Red Sox were determined to move past a dreadful April and re-establish themselves as contenders in the American League. After taking two games of three against the skilled Oakland Athletics, the Red Sox appear to have regained their winning form, helping their chances to return to the postseason in 2014.
Many things went well for the Red Sox against the Athletics, who entered the series with one of the best records in the American League. Starting pitching was one plus that the Red Sox seemed to enjoy throughout the series. With Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey all pitching solid games, Red Sox fans were able to observe the success of the starting rotation against competitive teams, giving them hope going into the later portions of the season.
However, it was Lester’s performance on Saturday that turned heads and could be a turning point for a struggling rotation. Lester pitched one of the finest games of his career, striking out a career-high 15 batters over eight innings, getting the win as the Red Sox triumphed 6-3. Lester’s wonderful outing asserted his case as a leading pitcher for the Red Sox and also provided evidence that the team is ready to make a deep run despite a sub .500 record.
Another factor that came into play was the team’s efficiency with runners in scoring position. Notably, the Red Sox thrived with RISP, as Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes both hit grand slams during the series. If the Red Sox continue to get key runs in during games, then they will be able to contend and get over the .500 hump they’ve desperately been chasing for the last two months.
In essence, the Red Sox need to continue their hot streak by hitting well and getting key outs on the mound. With a solid series victory over Oakland, the Red Sox will need to play well throughout the remainder of May in order to take over the AL East lead and assert themselves as a force to be reckoned with as the season moves onward.