Despite the fact that the Boston Red Sox played their 81st game two weeks ago, the All-Star break is considered to be the unofficial mid-point of the season. With the team off until Friday, let's use this time off to look back at the top moments from the season so far.
Opening Day Ring Ceremony
The Red Sox celebrated their 2013 World Series championship with a stirring pre-game presentation prior to their Home Opener at Fenway Park. The celebration recognized the recent tragedy the city had suffered and how the Boston Strong movement helped fuel this triumphant team. The first pitch ceremony celebrated all of Boston's recent champions by bringing back some familiar faces from each franchise. Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell were in attendance to represent the other Red Sox titles from the past decade. The Patriots were represented by former Super Bowl heroes Troy Brown, Teddy Bruschi and Ty Law. Mark Rechhi was there to recognize the Bruins Stanley Cup title from 2011 and Leon Powe from the Celtics 2008 title team.
A Brock Star is Born
Nobody knew it at the time, but when Brock Holt made his season debut on April 18 it was one of the most significant moments of the season. Holt collected a pair of hits in that game and had at least 1 hit in each of his first 6 games during a brief April stint in which he hit .348. Holt has been the Red Sox best hitter this season, batting .327/.371/.463 and providing the team with it's answer to the lead-off spot. His versatility on defense has been invaluable, as the Red Sox have been able to move him around the diamond to spend time at every position except pitcher and catcher (so far!).
On May 26 the Red Sox won a game in Atlanta to snap a 10-game losing streak. David Ortiz had a game high 4 RBI in the game, including a three-run homer that tied the game in the 5th inning and a sac fly that gave the Sox the lead in the 7th. Every win counts the same in the standings, but this one just felt like it was worth more to a desperate team that was watching their season spiral down the drain. The losing was taking a toll on this team, but snapping the streak snapped the Red Sox out of their funk, propelling them to a 7-game win streak.
Sox Celebrate 2004 World Series Team
Prior to a May 28 game at Fenway, the Red Sox invited the players from the 2004 World Series team to celebrate their 10 year anniversary. The Red Sox have won three championships in the past decade, but that first one in '04 will always be the most meaningful. That was the year they vanquished the rival Yankees in the ALCS by mounting an improbable comeback from down three games to none. It was the year of the Dave Roberts steal, Curt Schilling's bloody sock and Johnny Damon's caveman look. Most of all, it was the curse breaking season that ended an 86 year drought for the franchise and gave the team's passionate fan base a taste of what many believed they may never live to see. It was great seeing those bunch of "idiots" back together again and how after all these years that group still has such a strong bond between them.
Ortiz, Napoli Go Back-To-Back
The Minnesota Twins played the Red Sox to a scoreless draw through 9 innings, nearly wasting a brilliant performance by John Lackey, who deserved a complete game shutout for his efforts. Instead, he didn't even get the win as he was replaced in the 10th by Koji Uehara. Boston's closer gave up a two-out home run to Chris Parmelee in the top of the inning, but his offense bailed him out in the bottom of the inning. David Ortiz blasted a game tying shot down the right field line and Mike Napoli followed with a walk-off blast into the center field bleachers to cap a three game sweep of the Twins.
Lester Wins a Battle of Aces
Jon Lester had a tall task ahead of him, going into Yankee Stadium to square off against Masahrio Tanaka – who at the time was one of the top early season candidates for the Cy Young. Boston's ace proved up to the challenge by tossing 8 strong innings, allowing only an unearned run. Mike Napoli's 9th inning home run off Tanaka put Boston ahead and closer Koji Uehara slammed the door shut in the bottom of the inning to preserve the win for Lester.
Hey Now, You're An All-Star
Lester is having a career season, which recently earned him his third career All-Star selection. He enters the break ranking 6th in the AL in ERA (2.65) and 7th in strikeouts (134). He was initially the only representative from the Red Sox to make the team, until Uehara was added as an injury replacement.
Calling Up the Kids
Brock Holt isn't the only youngster making an impact on the team. Xander Bogaerts was one of the team's best hitters early in the season, before an extended slump that started last month sent his season in the tank. Boston has also seen Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts and Christian Vazquez in the lineup, while Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa have made their presence felt in the rotation. It can be tough following a team that has struggled as much as this Red Sox team has this year, but one of the bright spots has been catching a glimpse of the future with all these promising young players.
A Pair of Walk-Offs
The Sox had back-to-back walk-off victories against the Chicago White Sox on July 9 and 10 to salvage what had been a disappointing homestand. Chicago starter Chris Sale blanked the Red Sox through 7 innings, but was pulled with 2 outs in the 8th after surrendering his first run. Boston went on to score 4 more runs over the final two innings against the White Sox bullpen, capped by the game winning base hit by Brock Holt. The next day, Mike Carp was the hero after driving in the winning run as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning.
Buchholz Returns To Form
The last great moment of the season just happened in Boston's last game before the All-Star break. Clay Buchholz has had a nightmare season, but since his return from the disabled list last month he's shown signs of righting the ship. On Sunday he put it all together with his best start of the season – a complete game shutout in which he allowed only 3 hits, no walks and struck out a career high 12 batters. To cap it off, his offense put up a season high 11 runs to send the Red Sox into the break with a dominating victory that they hope will help springboard them into a strong second half.
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