Five keys to Red Sox turnaround


With a two-game sweep of the Marlins at Fenway Park on Wednesday, the Sox have won 8 of their last 10 games, including each of their last 4, marking their longest winning streak of the season. They also got back to .500 at home (21-21).

Yes, the Red Sox are playing their best baseball of the season. Because of it, they find themselves within striking distance of the Yankees as the two teams prepare for a three-game series at Fenway to close the first half of the season.

Over the last six games, the Sox are batting .298 and averaging 6.8 runs. Numbers like that were thought to be impossible back in May, but things started to change for the Sox in June and have continued to trend in the right direction into July. So let's take a look at what has allowed them to turn things around.

1. Offense as a whole
Remember those games back in May when a member of the Red Sox pitching staff would go out there and throw a pretty strong outing - a couple runs allowed - but the Sox would still find themselves in the loser's column? The offense was atrocious back then, prompting some frustrated fans to want to blow the whole thing up. The Sox scored an MLB-worst 82 runs in May, 12 runs lower than the 29th ranked Phillies. That number jumped to 126 runs in June (6th in AL) and currently 43 in July (4th in AL) through seven games. This is far more along the lines of what everybody expected.

2. The kids can play
The Sox made headlines over the offseason signing Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. But it's been the guys who came up in the Sox system, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, along with Brock Holt, who have really stepped up for the Sox at the top of the order. The Red Sox are 14-7 since June 16. Bogaerts has hit .341 in that time, including 16 RBI. Betts is hitting .356 (.398 OBP) in that span with 14 RBI to go with a 1.020 OPS. Holt is batting .294 (.362 OBP) with 12 runs and 9 RBI. Holt is in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak (batting .314) while Bogaerts is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak (batting .433).

3. Welcome back, Hanigan
Not to overplay the return of Ryan Hanigan, but the catcher is certainly important to this team and has played very well since returning on July 2. The Sox are 4-1 in games he starts and while part of that is due to how he calls games, another part is due to the fact he's 5-for-15 (.333) at the plate and has walked five times for a .500 OBP over five games. Hanigan was often times involved in the Sox offense before he hit the DL, so it's good to see him pick up where he left off. It's also good to get some production from the bottom of the order, as the Sox have lately.

4. Winning behind Buchholz
Clay Buchholz has pitched great basically all season, but the team didn't really start to win games with him on the mound until June rolled around. Now, they can't stop winning with him on the mound. Buchholz has won his last five decisions, and the team is 6-1 over his last seven starts. His ERA over those last seven starts is 1.99 as he's allowed one run or less in 7+ innings each time. Buchholz has emerged as the Sox ace and though his overall numbers don't show it, has pitched like an All-Star this year.

5. No more drama
Whenever a team underperforms the way the Sox did for a while, it's human nature to try to figure out what the cause of it is. Then whispers start to come out, like the team not happy with Hanley Ramirez's effort. Or Pablo Sandoval's Instagram addiction. There's no fight, etc. etc. Nobody likes to lose, and those things tend to just pile on an already bad situation. Now that the Sox have won some games, you don't hear anything negative around the team. That's not a coincidence.

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