Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy,

Don’t look now, but the Red Sox are starting to play better baseball.

It may have gone mostly unnoticed with the Bruins and Celtics playoff games over the holiday weekend, but the Sox strung together what was easily their best stretch of baseball so far in 2019.

Finally, there are positive signs with the defending World Series champions.

The starting pitching has started to turn things around. Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and David Price all delivered unspectacular but competitive outings this weekend. That’s a lot more than the Red Sox had gotten from their pitching staff the first few times through the rotation.

Mookie Betts had the biggest hit of his young season, a solo home run Friday night to help propel the Sox to victory.

There’s no doubt that top prospect Michael Chavis gave this team a spark. His critical double Saturday night, the first hit of his big league career, was easily one of the highlights so far in 2019.

After struggling with situational baseball for much of the year, the Sox moved runners along in the late innings on both Saturday and Sunday and pushed the go-ahead runs across the plate with a pair of sacrifice flies.

It may have taken the Red Sox six series to finally look like the Red Sox, but this weekend was the first time in 2019 they looked like a good baseball team.

Apr 21, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland (18) is congratulated by shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) as he hits a home run during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

And despite the terrible start to the season, the Sox don’t find themselves in a huge hole in the American League East.

They are just five games back of the division-leading Rays entering the week and just two-and-a-half games back of the Yankees for second place. The Tigers come to Fenway Park for four games, a team the Red Sox should handle with ease, and then the Rays come to town for a weekend series.

With a good week, the division standings could look very different by next Monday.

The Yankees are a walking MASH unit and just placed Aaron Judge on the Injured List with an oblique problem. Just add him to the list of the walking wounded in the Bronx.

The Yankees are staying afloat despite all their injuries, but they won’t put any distance between themselves and the Red Sox with the team they’re currently fielding.

The Blue Jays aren’t good, the Orioles are still awful, and nobody is really buying in on the Rays, right?

The division is still there for the taking and the Red Sox are showing signs that they’re on the verge of playing better baseball.

They have finally positioned themselves for a turnaround. Now it’s time for them to do it.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.