Successful Red Sox homestand marks turning point

Successful Red Sox homestand marks turning point
June 28, 2012, 1:23 am
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BOSTON The Red Sox opened their first homestand of the season, back in April, by taking the first three games from the Rays. They went on to lose the next five one to the Rays, and two each to the Rangers and Yankees. The finale of that homestand, a Sunday night game against the Yankees, was perhaps, mercifully rained out.In the previous game, on April 21, the Sox had suffered what has been their most crushing defeat of the season, turning a nine-run lead in the fifth into a 15-9 loss. The bullpen blew up by historic numbers, facing 22 batters in the seventh and eighth innings, with 14 runs scored. The 13 earned runs allowed by the pen were the most since giving up 15 in a 17-2 loss to the Twins on Aug. 10, 1994. The 14 total runs allowed were the most since giving up 17 in a June 19, 2000, 22-1 loss to the Yankees.After that game, with a record of 4-10, manager Bobby Valentine said he thought his team had reached its low point of the season.I think weve hit bottom, Valentine said back then. And if this isnt the bottom, then well find some new ends of the earth.While his team has yet to play with its full roster, Valentine has not had to go looking for those new ends of the earth.After trouncing the Blue Jays, 10-4, at Fenway Park Wednesday afternoon, the Red Sox reached their best record of the season, five games above .500, at 40-35. They reached .500 at home, at 21-21.Since falling to 4-10 after the April 21 loss, to start the season, the Sox have gone 36-25, tied for the second-most wins in baseball in the time, trailing only the Yankees 37.Valentine believed his team would turn things around. And, while things are not perfect, there are still uncertainties, and injuries have taken their toll, the teams just-completed nine-game homestand gives reason to join Valentine in his belief.The Sox finished the homestand with a record of 7-2, and have won nine of their last 11. They have won their last five series and have taken 11 of 15 series since May 10, going 11-3-1.I believed it, Valentine said I wasnt sure of it, but I believed it. Things were going so wrong and we couldnt catch a break. We had a season full of bad things happen. And things turned around because guys believed it, too, and they played hard every night that they came out.In the homestand, the Sox hit 16 home runs, the most theyve hit in a homestand of nine or fewer games since 20 homers on a nine-game homestand May 14 23, 1996, according to Elias.The Sox swept three games from the Marlins to open the homestand, then took two of three from the Braves and Blue Jays."That was definitely a good homestand for us, said Cody Ross. We got off on the right foot against the Marlins and just kept going, scoring runs, pitching well, playing good defense. It's nice to play like that at home.The Sox have lost 837 player-games to the disabled list more than the 803 games lost all of last season with 19 players serving 21 stints. But the players who have been brought in have contributed.Theres something to be said to what GM Ben Cherington and all the crew are doing, getting so much depth for us, said Adrian Gonzalez. Weve had a lot of our outfielders go down and weve had guys that have picked up and done an unbelievable job, as well as Daniel Nava coming up, and up and our pitching staff. Guys that weve called up have done a great job. We got a couple of guys in Triple A that have done a great job for us up here. So its really been an attribute to the fact of the roster, the team, our organization.With Wednesdays win, they have scored at least 10 runs for the 12th time this season, the most in the majors, going 11-1 in those games.We played great, said Dustin Pedroia. We played good ball. Now we just got to go to the West Coast and keep it going. Weve pitched great, played good defense and were swinging the bats really good. So, we got to keep it going.The Sox open a seven-game trip Thursday, with four games in Seattle and three in Oakland, before returning home to close out the first half with four games in three days against the Yankees."Collectively, as a group, we all knew that that April 21 loss to the Yankees was the cellar and it was not going to get any worse than that, said Ross. But with that being said, you still have to go out and play and perform and since then we've been having fun. Our main thing is to win series. We did that here. Now we can go on the road with some confidence and make a run before the All-Star break."

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