RED SOX RECORD
March: 1-1, April 16-11, May 17-12, June 16-11, July 11-13, August 18-9, September 16-10.
In what was a sign of things to come for the 24-year-old lefty, Jon Lester hurled the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history on May 19 against the Royals. Lester would continue that type of dominance throughout the campaign, producing his finest season at the big league level. The workhorse southpaw was the most reliable hurler on the Sox pitching staff in 2008, and it all started on a brisk May evening at Fenway Park.
Manny's trade: It's not too often a team will ship away a future Hall of Famer while sending two top prospects and millions of dollars just to get rid of him, but that's exactly what happened at the July 31 Trade Deadline. Ramirez was becoming a distraction in the clubhouse, and the team's 11-13 record in July illustrated just how tough it became for the team to deal with it. So Ramirez left for the Dodgers in late July, and Bay entered in early August. Since the deal, the Sox are 30-18 and, despite losing perhaps the most feared hitter in the game, seem much more confident in their chances.
Sellout Streak: There's no doubt the Sox have an advantage playing at Fenway Park, and the Sept. 8 showdown with Tampa Bay added historic proof. The Sox recorded their 456th consecutive sellout that night, passing the Cleveland Indians' streak from 1995 to 2001 as the longest in Major League history. With no end in sight, Boston clearly has one of the more distinct home-field advantages in the sport -- a big reason why this Red Sox club could use home-field advantage in this postseason.
Ramirez pulled himself out of the lineup in a July 25 game against New York, a contest which opened up a pivotal homestand against the then-streaking Yankees, Angels and A's. He would play in the next five games, but the Sox went just 1-5 to open the homestand, prompting the major trade at the deadline. But once Bay arrived, things turned around. He tripled in the 12th inning of his first contest with Boston, then scored the game-winning run in a 2-1 win over Oakland. Boston went 5-1 in the six games after the trade.
RED SOX HITTING
.281, 2nd in AL
839, 2nd in AL
173, 6th in AL
.359, 1st in AL
Avg.: Dustin Pedroia, .326
Runs: Dustin Pedroia, 118
HRs Kevin Youkilis, 29
OBP J.D. Drew, .408
Stolen Bases: Jacoby Ellsbury, 50
Once a team that relied offensively on the powerful swings of Ramirez and Ortiz, Boston became a team that relies on hits to the gap, baserunning and scrappy play. Pedroia has been the catalyst of this type of mentality all season, leading the AL in batting average, doubles, runs and hits at various points in the year.
RED SOX PITCHING
4.01, 4th in AL
3.97, 3rd in AL
3.91, 7th in AL
1,185, 1st in AL
147, 11th in AL
.249, 3rd in AL
Wins: Daisuke Matsuzaka, 18
ERA (starter): Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2.80
ERA (reliever): Jonathan Papelbon, 2.34
Strikeouts: Josh Beckett, 172
Saves: Jonathan Papelbon, 41
Holds: Hideki Okajima, 23
HRs allowed: Tim Wakefield, 25
Opponents BA: Manny Delcarmen, .203
The main question all season is how to get a secure lead from the starting pitching to Papelbon. While the middle relief has had it's streaks of being reliable, it hasn't performed as steadily as it did during the 2007 championship campaign. The addition of Paul Byrd to the rotation strengthened the starting pitching, but much of Boston's postseason hopes will rely on how efficient Matsuzaka pitches and how dominant Beckett is down the stretch.
RED SOX FIELDING
.986, tied for 1st in AL
81, 13th in AL
Boston's outfield is one of the more difficult defensive units to collect extra-base hits against in the game. Ellsbury and Coco Crisp are a big part of that, using their speed and durability to rotate around the outfield wherever needed. Ellsbury has yet to commit an error in 133 games played this season. Meanwhile, Kevin Youkilis won a Gold Glove Award in 2007 for his work at first base, and Pedroia makes highlight plays regularly at second. Jed Lowrie has yet to commit an error at shortstop in 2008.
RED SOX VS. ANGELS
April 22: Red Sox 7, Angels 6
-- Ellsbury fuels Red Sox win
April 23: Angels 6, Red Sox 4
-- Lester starts on short rest, but Sox fall to Halos
April 24: Angels 7, Red Sox 5
-- Masterson strong in debut, but Angels win late
July 18: Angels 11, Red Sox 3
-- Buchholz bows out early in opener
July 19: Angels 4, Red Sox 2
-- Beckett goes all the way, but not for win
July 20: Angels 5, Red Sox 3
-- Sox swept on road, look for answers
July 28: Angels 7, Red Sox 5
-- Dice-K tagged with rare loss as Sox fall
July 29: Angels 6, Red Sox 2
-- Red Sox avoid no-no, but Lackey too strong
July 30: Angels 9, Red Sox 2
-- Beckett allows eight runs, Sox commit four errors
RED SOX VS. PLAYOFF TEAMS
vs. White Sox: