It's getting into that time of year where pennant races start to heat up, and the players who decide them step forward.
With the Red Sox a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East as the beginning of August nears, CSNNE.com's Rich Levine took a look at what players need to step up for the Red Sox.
The biggest names: Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury.
"[Sunday's] start was special (for Lester), but while it's nice to see signs of life, those special Lester starts need to become the norm," Levine said. "For No. 31, dominance is the expectation, not the cause for celebration."
As for Ellsbury, he needs to bolster the top spot in the batting order.
"This hasn't been the contract year Boston and Scott Boras (Ellsbury's agent) had hoped for, but, still, the Sox are never better [than] when their leadoff man has it going," Levine said. "Heading into [Monday night's game], Ellsbury was hitting .335 with 49 runs scored in Boston's 56 wins [that he's been in for], he's hitting .235 with 13 runs scored in their 40 losses."
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