BOSTON -- Yeah, the Red Sox were dead.
Thankfully, I never said they were, even though I quoted one scout saying just that in this May 18 column .
"They're dead," he said, one month ago today, when Boston was 8 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.
They're not dead, it's easy to say today, after a 5-4 win over the Dodgers that at least temporarily moved the Red Sox to within half a game of the Rays. If the Rays lose to the Marlins in a game that just began as I'm writing this, the Red Sox will be tied for the wild-card lead (and one game behind the Yankees), the first time they'd be in a playoff position since the second day of the season.
Good thing I didn't say they were dead. Too bad I gave almost all the wrong reasons for the way they could come back to life.
Let's look back:
1. What I said: Josh Beckett has to start pitching like an ace.
What happened: Beckett went on the disabled list with a back injury that he and the Red Sox said was a minor problem, and a month later he hasn't returned.
2. What I said: Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury need to come back.
What happened: Cameron came back. Ellsbury came back for three games, then got hurt again. The Red Sox outfield is still such a jumble that manager Terry Francona has used 20 different combinations in the first 70 games, and today against the Dodgers he started Daniel Nava in left, Darnell McDonald in center and Bill Hall in right.
3. What I said: The veterans need to stop complaining, and the newcomers need to fit in.
What happened: They've been winning, and it's been quieter, so maybe I was closer to right on this one.
4. What I said: They need to own Fenway.
What happened: The Red Sox were just 12-11 at home when I wrote that. They're 13-4 since.
5. What I said: The Yankees and/or Rays need to stumble.
What happened: The Yankees are 17-12 over the last month. The Rays, going into tonight's game with the Marlins, are 13-15. Is that a stumble? Sure, but not as big as I thought the Sox needed.
So why are the Red Sox winning, with Nava and McDonald and Hall, and without Beckett and Ellsbury?
Well, as Dustin Pedroia pointed out after his game-winning hit against the Dodgers, the offense that was such a question this spring is leading the majors in runs scored. And while Beckett hasn't returned, over the last month Jon Lester is 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA, and Clay Buchholz is 5-1 with a 1.90 ERA.
The Sox were 20-20 when I asked whether they were dead (and then said that they weren't). They're 22-8 in the 30 games since then.
No, they weren't dead (easy to say now). And yes, we might have that great three-team race in the American League East that we were hoping to get.