BOSTON (CBS) — So the Bruins lost in the Stanley Cup Final, which is no doubt a disappointing. If you’re like most Bruins fans, you’ve been glued to the TV every other night as the Bruins fended off the Maple Leafs, steamrolled their way through the Rangers and Penguins and fought valiantly against the Blackhawks. Just about three times a week since January, the Bruins have captured all of our attention, and it nearly paid off with a championship.
Alas, it did not, and suddenly, it’s summer time.
If you’re like a lot of people, your attention was diverted away from the Red Sox. There are only so many hours in a day to dedicate to watching and following sports, and frankly it’s hard to get into a regular-season baseball game during intermission or commercial breaks of a Stanley Cup playoff game. If you’ve fallen behind on your usual Red Sox fandom, it’s OK, we don’t blame you.
In fact, we’re here to help. Here’s a crash course in everything you need to know about the 2013 Red Sox to catch you up to speed.
–The Red Sox are 78 games deep into their season. They’re in first place with a 45-33 record, just three games short of the best record in baseball. Their plus-69 run differential is third-best in MLB and second-best in the American League. Their 394 runs scored is tops in baseball.
–Daniel Nava could be an All-Star in Flushing, N.Y., on July 16. He’s hitting .274 and ranks fourth among AL outfielders with 45 RBIs and eighth with an .816 OPS. His 10 home runs have him ranked second on the Red Sox, and he ranks third in RBIs. Considering he entered the year as a .242 hitter with seven career homers and 59 total RBIs, he’s been quite the pleasant surprise for Boston this year.
–David Ortiz can still rake. Despite missing the first two and a half weeks of the season, Big Papi still leads the Red Sox with 16 homers and 55 RBIs. He’s hitting .316 with a 1.005 OPS and looks to be as great as ever at the plate. But you knew that.
–The Red Sox have had several walk-off wins this year, so picking the best moment of the season would be a tough call. However, Ortiz’s walk-off homer in early June against Texas would have to qualify as a finalist.
–Despite being in first place, the Red Sox do not have a closer. Joel Hanrahan failed early in the season before needing Tommy John surgery, and Andrew Bailey has been bad since then. Bailey has eight saves and five holds but four blown saves to go with his 4.37 ERA and a career-high six home runs allowed. His previous career high came in his rookie season, when he allowed five homers over 83 1/3 innings. This year, the six home runs have come in just 22 2/3 innings.
John Farrell has tapped Koji Uehara as the team’s closer for the time being, and while Koji’s high-speed high fives have been nothing short of epic, the closer’s role may not suit him best. If the Red Sox are to make an acquisition before the deadline, it should probably be a closer.
–Jose Iglesias is suddenly a big-time big league player. Though he’s a career .257 hitter in nearly 300 minor league games, he has torn it up every chance he’s gotten in the majors this year. He’s hitting .426, and the sample size isn’t as small as you might think. He has 108 at-bats and 121 plate appearances, and his 46 hits are especially impressive when you consider Stephen Drew has just 48 hits in 217 at-bats.
Iglesias has no doubt had a little bit of luck with some of his infield hits, but that doesn’t mean they don’t count. He’s also had a little bit of pop (eight doubles, two triples, one home run) and has been extraordinarily valuable by being open to playing some third base. His defense has been exceptional and a lot of fun to watch, and it looks like he’s here to say.
–Nobody knows what is wrong with Jon Lester, but he’s been bad. In his seven starts since May 20, he’s 1-3 with a 7.30 ERA, with opponents hitting .331 against him, as the Red Sox have gone 3-4 in those games. His struggles are hard to figure out, but hey, Pedro Martinez says not to worry.
–Clay Buchholz is … well … tender. The righty spent the first chunk of the season making his case for Cy Young consideration, but he’s spent the last month on the shelf with various injuries. With a sore neck, Buchholz’s bullpen sessions kept getting pushed back, and he was finally placed on the disabled list last week. He was supposed to return this week but that was canceled due to “lingering discomfort in his right trapezius muscle,” as described by The Boston Globe.
Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June 8, when he allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings to bring his ERA to 1.71 to go with his 9-0 record. The Sox were 38-25 that day, 13 games above .500, but have gone 7-8 since then. Buchholz has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, and the Red Sox are going to need him over the final three months of the season, hence the level of caution they are using now.
–John Lackey has the second-best ERA among Red Sox starters at 3.03. He’s second in WHIP, too, at 1.21. He hasn’t finished a season with an ERA or WHIP that low since 2007. And they say there’s no such thing as miracles?
–Jerry Remy has been out sick for a while, but he returns to the booth Tuesday night. That’s best for all of us.
–Will Middlebrooks is hitting below .200 and has been a bit of a disappointment in his sophomore season. He does have nine home runs, but he has 60 strikeouts and just nine walks.
–As surprising as the Red Sox’ success has been, the team still has no breathing room in the AL East. They hold just a 2.5-game lead over the Yankees and Orioles, and even the last-place Blue Jays are just 5.5 games out. Even with the extra wild-card opportunity, making the playoffs will not be easy for the Red Sox.
–They have 43 home games remaining, and tickets are fairly easy to get, at least compared to years past. See you at the ballpark.