I love this team. They're easy to like. The first month of the season was really difficult for a lot of reasons, but we got through it. ... [T]he level of intensity and trying to do the right thing has been off the charts. It's been a challenge, but one that I think we've all kind of enjoyed.
One fan's list of the best and worst games of the first half [sic] of the 2010 season.
June 12 vs Phillies - Daniel Nava hits the first pitch of his major league career into the Red Sox bullpen for a grand slam! In the next inning, Nava comes to the plate with the bases loaded again -- bringing the Fenway crowd of 37,061 to its feet -- but strikes out. He adds a double later on and the Red Sox -- who were forced to use their bullpen for nine innings when Daisuke Matsuzaka goes on the DL immediately after his pre-game warm-ups -- win 10-2.
April 20 vs Rangers - Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron go on the disabled list in the afternoon and Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald arrive from Pawtucket. The Red Sox, off to their worst start in 14 years (4-9, and already 6 GB Tampa Bay), trail 6-2 after five innings. But Reddick doubles home two runs in the sixth to make it 6-4. McDonald pinch-hits for Reddick in the eighth and crushes a game-tying, two-run homer to left. McDonald then come through with a bases-loaded, game-winning single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Dustin Pedroia dubs him the "Microwave".
May 18 at Yankees - Following a horrific loss the night before (see below), the Red Sox turn the tables on the MFY. Up 5-1 after seven innings, CC Sabathia hands the ball to Joba Chamberlain. Marco Scutaro reaches on an infield error (E-Rod) and Pedroia singles to right. J.D. Drew doubles to left (5-2). Kevin Youkilis's pop fly down the right field line falls for a double (5-4). Joba finally gets an out, but David Ortiz singles to right-center to tie the game. In the ninth, Mariano Rivera gives up a single to McDonald and Marcus Thames muffs Scutaro's pop-up to short right. Rivera retires Pedroia, but the runners move up to second and third, and they both score on another opposite field double by Drew. Jonathan Papelbon needs 28 pitches to navigate the ninth, as he allows one run and strands two RATS for the 7-6 win.
May 22 at Phillies - Matsuzaka is four outs away from a no-hitter when he gives up a single to Juan Castro. He retires the next batter and Daniel Bard breezes through the ninth. Boston wins 5-0. (The starters for the next 3 days: Tim Wakefield eight shutout innings, Clay Buchholz 1 run in 6 innings, and Jon Lester 1 hit in 6 innings.)
June 24 at Rockies - Pedroia goes 5-for-5, with three home runs, a double, a single, a walk, four runs scored, and five RBI. He swings at only 6 of the 19 pitches he sees: his five hits plus a foul ball right before the single. Papelbon blows a 10-8 lead in the bottom of the ninth, but after FY's third dong gives Boston another two-run lead in the 10th, Bot snuffs the Rockies in order for the 13-11 win.
Other good stuff: April 26: Boston edges the Blue Jays 13-12 at Skydome (I was there!). June 8: Wakefield sets a franchise record for most innings pitched. July 2: The Red Sox beat the Orioles 3-2 and are only 0.5 GB in the East (they were 8.5 GB on May 23).
May 2 at Orioles - The Red Sox lose 3-2 in 10 innings as the Orioles complete their first three-game sweep of Boston at home in 35 years (September 2-4, 1974). The other two losses: 5-4 in 10 and 12-9. The Red Sox fall to 11-14, 7 GB the Rays.
May 15 at Tigers - With Lester on the hill, the Red Sox are up by five in the fifth and lead 6-4 in the eighth. Hideki Okajima coughs that up in a hurry, allowing a home run, walk, single, and double to his first four batters. In the 11th, Boston has runners on first and second and no outs and cannot score (or even get a runner to third). With one out and Tigers on first and third in the bottom of the 12th, Ramon Ramirez issues a walk to load the bases and, after getting a strikeout, walks Ramon Santiago on four pitches to lose 7-6.
May 17 at Yankees - May 15's loss is clearly the worst loss of the season -- for two days. The first six New York batters reach base against Matsuzaka and Boston trails 5-0 after one inning. They claw back, though, thanks to five home runs, including a three-run bomb by Drew and two solo shots from Victor Martinez. Up 9-7, Papelbon allows two two-run home runs in the bottom of the ninth and Boston loses 11-9. The loss drops Boston 8.5 GB the Rays.
June 23 at Rockies - Ubaldo Jiminez has a 1.15 ERA through 14 starts, but the Red Sox hit him for 10 hits and six runs in 5.2 innings. Papelbon is handed a 6-5 lead in the ninth. His second pitch is hit for a game-tying home run by Ian Stewart. Papelbon then allows a single and a sacrifice bunt before pinch-hitter Jason Giambi becomes a True Rockie™ by drilling a 1-0 pitch to deep right for a two-run dong and a 8-6 Colorado victory.
June 25 at Giants - Youkilis hits a three-run home run in the first, but the Giants lead Wakefield and the Sox 4-3 after three innings. Boston leaves: the bases loaded in the sixth, the bases loaded in the seventh, runners at first and second in the eighth, and the bases loaded in the ninth. That's 11 LOB over the last four innings -- and a well-deserved 5-4 loss. Pedroia fouls a ball off his left foot, fracturing the navicular bone. It begins a bad week for injuries: Buchholz suffers a minor hamstring tear, Martinez fractures a bone in his left thumb, Varitek breaks a bone is his foot, and Manny Delcarmen is DL'd with a forearm strain. All the while, Beckett, Ellsbury, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Lowell are also on the DL; and Scutaro (pinched nerve in neck) and Drew (right hamstring, stiff neck) have also missed games.
Other bad stuff: April 16: The Red Sox load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 11th against the Rays and cannot score; Tampa wins 3-1 in 12. The Rays finish a four-game sweep on April 19 when they bomb John Lackey for 8 runs in 3.1 innings. May 28: Jacoby Ellsbury goes back on the DL and the Royals crush the Sox 12-5. June 9: Justin Masterson two-hits the Sox, who lose 11-0 to Cleveland; Boof Bonser and Joe Nelson throw a total of 60 pitches in an 8-run eighth.
The Red Sox are 51-37 -- on pace for 94 wins -- 5 GB in the East, and 3 GB in the WC. There are 74 games left in the regular season.