Games 86 through 88 - Red Sox
Red Sox 1, Royals 1
Red Sox 15, Royals 9
Red Sox 6, Royals 0
There may be a better way to enter the All-Star Break than a three-game Sox winning streak coupled with a three-game Yankee losing streak (Amy Adams is likely involved, if there is), but I'll certainly take the real-world scenario that played out this weekend.
Jon Lester and Josh Beckett took turns gunslinging, dropping 17 innings of 7-hit, 0-run starting pitching on the Royals. Lester, in particular, carried the team to victory as his mates stumbled around offensively against Brian Bannister. The lefty channeled Kurt Russell's Wyatt Earp in Tombstone's payoff gun battle, wading into hostile fire and refusing to surrender. Dustin Pedroia's 8th-inning double finally made Lester a winner. Beckett's performance was even better, though it lacked the drama of a scoreless late-game battle.
The recently-maligned bats even showed up on Saturday and Sunday, as if chagrined by Lester's one-man (two, if you count Papelbon's devastating stuff on Friday) effort. And they needed to, as the middle part of the bullpen gave another incendiary (in the bad way) performance on Saturday. After John Smoltz delivered his best outing, staking the Sox to a 9-1 lead after 5 innings, Justin Masterson and Manny Delcarmen allowed 5 runs in the 6th, and were on their way to giving up more in the 7th before Daniel Bard snuffed a rally. Then, Bard himself gave up 2 more in the 8th to make a certain laugher far less funny.
And now an All-Star Break that's sure to be far less nerve-wracking than it looked like it might have been a few short days ago, followed by 4 days on the beach and a whole lot of ignoring baseball for me. Angst, my friend, I'll catch up with you in a few weeks.