Next man up: Scutaro was the key to this game, delivering a grand slam
and getting on base five times before all was said and done, a demonstration
of how the injury-depleted 2010 Sox seem to get put on the back
of a different guy with each win.
It's not like we were making up our panic out of whole cloth -- things looked as bad for the Sox at this time last week as they had all year. The number of injuries has been truly mind-boggling; as the wounded have started to trickle back it's like we've gotten an entirely new team in just the last few days, and key pieces of the roster still haven't shown back up.
This time last week, there was panic in the streets, shouts for a trade, certainty that the Red Sox season was going up in smoke. As Projo's Jim Donaldson put it, "Gotta say -- if the over-under number on Boston wins on this trip had been, say, five, I'd have taken the 'under'."
But now the Sox have found their way to a winning record on this road trip (6-5), still at least a part of the playoff conversation. The starting pitching in particular has been a rock on this road trip, showing consistency and even brilliance, though at times their good work went unrewarded with a win. And that's to say nothing of a resurgent offense, especially Big Papi, who shows little sign so far of a swing affected by the Home Run Derby.
Managers in baseball play a different role from head coaches in football, one that's less central to each play on the field. But right now, Terry Francona above all deserves the kind of the praise previously heaped on Bill Belichick for game management and assembling a winning club from spare parts. To keep everyone on a team like this pulling in the same direction speaks volumes about its leadership, and honestly, I still don't think Tito gets the full credit he deserves from everyone around here.
There are still plenty of questions left unanswered, of course, and if the Sox wanted to seek relief pitching help, I wouldn't be opposed. They remain a long shot for the division, and the Wild Card is no guarantee. But right now, none of this is to be underestimated. Right now, I'm proud to call this my team.