The Return of Papi

Wow, nice to see Big Papi win the game for Boston Wednesday night.  A walk-off dinger is something else and David Ortiz perfected it in 2006.  But for some reason, the magic had left him in 2007.  He made up for it Wednesday.

The Red Sox are 5 up on the Yankees entering the weekend series at Fenway.  The Red Sox have Thursday off while the Yankees have a game against Toronto, so the lead will be either 4.5 or 5.5 unless the Rogers Centre has a cave in (and thus a postponement).

Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Red Sox had a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs.  They had a 93.9% chance of winning the AL East.  With each team (Bos and NY) winning tonight, the % improved for Boston as their "magic number" decreased.  As of Thursday AM, Boston’s magic number is 12 (a combination of 12 Red Sox wins and 12 Yankees losses equals the AL East).  For those wondering why I am talking about the Yankees, well, check the name of this site and they have won 7 in a row and have, by far, the best record in baseball since the break.  $191m in payroll buys a ton of talent and the Yankees are still in the hunt…

Some nice developments:

Ortiz on a streak:  Ortiz has 17 HR’s since the break vs. 14 before the break.  Sure that total is a far cry from the 54 he hit in 2006, but he is hot now and a hot David Ortiz is a good thing.

JD Drew:  He has been terrible I know, but (I was a supporter of him earlier in the year, but his total and complete lack of power has proved scary.) he has a few hits in the last few games.  Big deal?  Probably, but Red Sox fans have to cling to something.  More on JD Drew later.

Dustin Pedroia:  .325/.389/.451.  Pedroia is a possible ROY candidate and has been playing stellar D.  Pedroia has only made 5 errors at 2b, a position that usual yields 15 + error per season.  .991 /.985% (his vs. league avg 2b) fld % and a 4.47/4.56 range factor (vs league).

Mike Lowell:  Lowell has been a more than solid replacement for Manny, I’m taking my annual 20 games off, Ramirez.  Lowell is hitting .360/.418/.476 since the All-Star break through Tuesday.  Lowell has been super and make the idea of losing him in 2008 a painful thought.  He is hitting for average more than power right now (14 HR’s first half, 4 second half), but his average (.300 first half, .360 second half) has made up for it.  His 103 RBI is 2 short of a career high.

Josh Beckett:  Beckett has a better ERA since the break than prior:  3.44/3.05.  He has been the best starter on team hands down.

Jonathan Papalbon:  1.55 ERA entering Wednesday, that after posting a 0.92 ERA in 2006.  HR has been steady and has pitched 15 fewer innings than last season (in the regular season).

Boston has many players doing good things and many players doing more than adequate things, but there are still a few more games to be won and no need to coast.  Big series at Fenway this weekend.