Sox return home, hope still on board

July, 29, 2010
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The rotation is intact again, Victor Martinez is back behind the plate, Dustin Pedroia is on the mend (even if it’s not at warp speed like he’d hoped) and Jacoby Ellsbury is just days away from returning to the Boston Red Sox lineup.

The bullpen? It may take Theo Epstein a couple of weeks or so beyond Saturday’s trading deadline to piece together some help -- a waiver deal in August appears more likely than a trade now, according to one club source -- but if the Sox starters can go deep into games, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon still offer Terry Francona a devastating one-two combo at the end, even though Papelbon (“It takes more than one punch to knock me out”) says he plans to lay off the boxing analogies.

“From now on, it’s all NASCAR,’’ Papelbon said, “with me as the car.’’

Sticking to the auto-racing theme, then, the Red Sox just successfully navigated a caution lap, remaining within striking distance of the leaders in the AL East after a three-city, 10-game West Coast swing that could have had dire consequences.

Instead, after stumbling in Oakland, losing two out of three, and splitting a four-game series in Seattle that could have been a sweep if not for some late-inning implosions, the Sox took three straight from the Los Angeles Angels, leaving the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season on life support.

Click here for the full column.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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