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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In July we find out what the Red Sox really are

The 2004 World Series Trophy in City Hall Plaz...
July will be perhaps the most important part of the Red Sox schedule in 2012. Will they get a chance to win their third World Series in ten years, or will they be just another team vacationing early?  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This 2012 Red Sox team has been hard for the fans to get behind. Drama from the media and poor play have made it a mostly forgettable season and here in the early days of July, many are still struggling to give this team an identity. No one, including the players I think, is sure what these Red Sox are.

Since Josh Beckett was pounded by the Indians on May 10, the Red Sox have turned things around, but some attribute the success to a relief in the schedule. That may not be the case, but there are plenty of reasons to second guess these guys this season.

As things turn around and the fans begin to get behind them, a stretch like the current road trip happens, causing us to once again second guess what this team is made of. Are they the team that won nine of ten from June 16-27 or are they the one that is 2-4 on a West Coast swing between Seattle and Oakland?

As much as we are undecided, I would think the majority of players on the team are even more, despite what they say to the media. Right now is the time when the Red Sox have to figure out who they are. The month of July may be the most important part of this marathon season.

With 13 of the remaining 23 games this month being played against AL East rivals (7 against the Yankees), the Red Sox can enter August in good shape for a stretch run or buried further than the 7.5 games already separating them and first place.

This weekends series against the "Bombers" will be perhaps the most important (or very close) series of the season. Three of four for the Red Sox would give them 2.0 games in the standings, a split would send them to the break where they started. A sweep would be the best way to go into the All Star break.

There will be chances the next two+ months to gain ground, but if the Red Sox don't make up some ground in July, is there a realistic chance they can gain 7 or 8 games in August and September? There's a chance, there always is, but if your the Red Sox, you don't want to enter August down that many games in the division.

Right now, the Red Sox are 1.5 games out of the second wild card and 3.0 out of the first. The Angels are first and look like they will be there until the end. Do you feel comfortable with Jon Lester or even Josh Beckett facing Jered Weaver in a one game playoff to decide who advances? I don't and the Sox shouldn't. The emphasis has to be on winning the division.

If the wild card is all that's left, fine, take your chances. Right now though, it's not all that's left. The division is still winnable and this month could be the month that things sway from one direction to the other.

Which extreme will the Red Sox go to? Will they win despite the tough schedule? Or will they allow the AL East to separate itself from them? July will be the month we find out what this group of Red Sox is made of.

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