The last two games should give a real spark of hope to the Boston fans that maybe this team has the kind of talent and spirit to make it happen this year. The prospect of dropping 2 out of 3 to a lackluster Orioles team in Fenway could have been a strong indicator of the sox cooling off and losing their edge, but instead they came back in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth to take the rubber game of the series. Sure, they had some help. Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez missed an infield pop up any high schooler could have made to allow Coco Crisp to reach and prompted the inexplicable pulling of Orioles SP Jeremy Guthrie after throwing a gem 8 1/3 shutout innings with no signs of weakness. Normally "hearing footsteps" is a term applied to Wide Receivers in football, but watching Chris Ray missing the toss from Kevin Millar for the last out of the game with the game on the line that was all I could think about with Julio Lugo sneaking in behind him. The Orioles felt the pressure and cracked. The team with the best fielding percentage in the AL committed two huge errors in the ninth and paid for it with a loss. Josh Beckett's injury and lackluster performance is certainly cause for concern, but judging by the post game reactions and the nature of his injury I wouldn't imagine this will develop into a serious problem or cost him more than one start.
Tonight's game against the Tigers was similarly encouraging. Looking through the Red Sox's schedule thus far it seems somewhat lacking for wins against good teams with the exception of a 3 game sweep of the the Angels in Fenway. 5 out of 6 against the Yankees is certainly nice, but these aren't the Yankees we can expect come fall given the serious injuries to their starting rotation. The Tigers came into Fenway one of the hottest teams in Baseball on top of the AL central. Dice K on the other hand had been underachieving with some mediocre starts (last week v. Toronto) and some terrible starts (v. Seattle), but this complete game gem against a strong AL team gives alot of reason for optimism that he's made the adjustments to the American strike zone, ball and rotation and is now in a position to be dominant. His performance lacked the power of the strike-out happy performances seen thus far, but the consistent outs were an encouraging sign nonetheless.
This places the Sox 8.5 games ahead of the Yankees who did not play tonight and gives them the best record in Baseball by 1.5 games over the upstart Brewers who seem to be finally cooling off having lost their last two games.