By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two and a half weeks ago, the Red Sox were staring into a scheduling abyss: They would rack up tends of thousands of miles, flying from the midwest to the Pacific Northwest, back to Boston (briefly), then back to the midwest and Texas.
The stretch was daunting. But the Red Sox survived, even thrived.
They went 10-7 in those 17 games, including a 9-5 run in the 14 road games. When the stretch began, the Sox led the Yankees by a game. Now that the demanding span of games is over, their lead is exactly the same: A full game over second-place New York.
That included a 6-2 finish in Kansas City and Texas, where the Red Sox had been winless earlier in the season and carried a five-game losing streak into Tuesday.
"We've been playing well," said Dustin Pedroia. "This part was tough and this last (bit of it) says a lot about our team. We came out here, lose the first game then played three great games."
Of the five series' that made up the 17-game segment of the schedule, the Sox won three and lost two. By winning each of the last two series, both on the road, the Sox can now claim eight winning road trips in the last nine and still boast the best road record in either league.
At 50-30, the Red Sox have 32 games remaining over the next 4 12 weeks. Of those 32, 19 are at home, with just 13 remaining away from Fenway.
Of course, the next two days won't feel like much of a reprieve. Following an early Friday morning touchdown in Boston, the Red Sox must play three games in the span of about 25 hours.
Then, they'll have two straight days off, which might interrupt any momentum they've built. But they're also at home for the next 10 days, with the full knowledge that just two road trips remain.
The worst is over.
The one-game lead over the Yankees is hardly secure and there are no guarantees that it will remain intact past next week, when the Yankees visit for three games.
More likely, the division -- for whatever that's worth for bragging rights, home field and a better first-round draw - won't be decided until the final weekend of the season when the Red Sox visit New York.
But for now, the toughest part of the summer is behind them. The test was passed.
"I don't think it's time to take a deep breath," cautioned manager Terry Francona. "But we're hanging in there."
Two and a half long weeks ago, tens of thousands of miles back, that was the goal.