Red Sox review: Rafael Devers leads an offense that continues to rake, and the reigning World Series champs might be back

BOSTON -- Last week we wondered if April showers were finally starting to bring May flowers for this year's Red Sox team. Well, it would appear that this squad is now in full bloom

The Sox are on fire and have climbed above .500 for the first time all season, and they don't appear to have much interest in looking back. After a tough loss to the Orioles last Monday, Boston has ripped off five wins in a row, including a dominant series sweep of the Mariners at Fenway over the weekend. They've gone 8-1 in their past 9 games, 11-2 in their past 13, and 16-6 in their past 22.

It seems like only yesterday that we were sarcastically celebrating this team's ability to squeak out their first series win after a month of baseball. Now this is a team that has swept three series in the past month, including two straight at home.

They're still just three games over .500 and stuck in third place thanks to the miserable start out of the gate, but the Red Sox's recent dominance seems like very bad news for the rest of baseball. With pretty much the same roster as the squad that was tops in baseball from wire-to-wire last year, many were just waiting for Boston to get hot and rediscover the magic. As highlighted here over the past few weeks, there were signs to suggest this team would break out and heat up very soon. 

Well, "very soon" has become "right now" and it seems safe to consider the Sox hot ... so very hot right now.

Every MLB campaign is a grueling marathon filled with peaks and valleys, and there are certain noteworthy aspects to be taken from the highs and lows and everything in between. As such, throughout the course of this season, we'll check in with the Red Sox to see where they're at in defending their throne, what we've learned recently and what's next for the reigning champs.

Then: May 14, 2018: 28-13, 1st in AL East Now: May 14, 2019: 22-19, 3rd in AL East

How's the offense?

They're scoring a boatload of runs, so that seems good. Boston put up a 15-spot, a 14-spot and an 11-spot all in the course of one week so they're starting to look more and more like the explosive force that we thought they'd be. Over the course of the current five-game win streak, the Red Sox have averaged 8.80 runs per game. Their average in all of May is only a shade lower at 7.82 runs per game.

It's not a coincidence that their power at the plate has also started to take off a bit, with the team blasting 24 HR in their last 12 games. The Sox have had multi-homer games in every game during the five-game win streak, hitting a total of 12 over that span.

If we're talking about some rediscovered pop in the lineup, we've got to talk J.D. Martinez, who has hit three homers in his past five games following a 15-game homerless drought. Mitch Moreland continues to rake and picked up three home runs of his own this week, bringing his season total to a team-high 12 on the year. He's on pace to hit 47 homers this year, which would certainly be something considering his current career-high is 23. (He hit 15 in 2018)

Also on fire is Rafael Devers, who is not-so-quietly putting together an unbelievable first half. His power numbers are still lacking (just two home runs thus far) but he's been a hit machine at the plate and currently leads the American League in batting average with a .336 clip. Devers current has four straight games with a multi-hit performance (including three-hit showings in his past three games) and has multiple hits in 11 of his past 16 games. The 22-year-old is batting .545 (12-for-22) during his five-game hit streak and is hitting .391 (36-for-92) over his past 25.

Since we've recently made it a habit of checking in on Michael Chavis, the rookie had a rough week as he extended his hitless streak to five games. But that streak ended on Sunday in the series finale versus Seattle when he went 3-for-5 and knocked in five runs, becoming the 23rd rookie in Red Sox history to drive in five-plus RBI in a game. He also becomes one of just three Red Sox players ever to drive in at least 19 RBI over their first 20 MLB games, joining Ted Williams and George Scott. 

What about the pitching?

Yup, the pitching remains solid too, although it's a relatively easy life as a pitcher when your offense is averaging almost eight runs per game through the first half of May. Even still, Boston's team ERA this month (2.78) ranks sixth-best in the league and the collective batting average against (.198) is second-best among all teams.

It was another bad week for Chris Sale's haters, as the Sox ace is starting to look more and more like his normal self. After picking up his first win a few weeks ago, Sale delivered an outstanding performance in a no-decision against the Orioles on Wednesday in Baltimore. Sale went eight innings, giving up just one run on three hits and striking out 14 batters. It was his best outing of the year and helped lower his ERA to below five (4.50) for the first time this season.

Out of the pen, we've been highlighting guys like Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman but it's worth reiterating how good Marcus Walden has been for this team, and pretty much out of no where. He has continued to be a stud for Boston, going 3-0 with a 0.63 ERA in 14.1 IP over his past nine appearances. 

Ryan Brasier had a rough start to May with a couple of bad outings, but he bounced back this week with back-to-back scoreless appearances. He picked up a win in an extra inning victory over Baltimore on Wednesday.

The success of the offense and the pitching coming together has been a dangerous combination. Over their past seven series (since April 19) the Red Sox have a plus-69 run differential (143-74), which is very nice. It's also the best in the league over that span. 

Odds and ends

Coincidentally, as the the Sox have begun looking like the defending champs, the team (or at least some of the team) was honored for their 2018 World Series title at the White House last week. Well, more accurately, the "Socks" were honored as "World Cup Series" champions last week.

Also, it should be noted that all of this recent team success is credited to the POTUS.

Highlight of the week

It's crazy to think that in a week where the Red Sox put together a million runs that the best highlight would come in the field, but that's just how good this Jackie Bradley Jr. catch was. 

That grab robbed Trey Mancini of a walk-off home run in the 11th inning with the game tied 1-1. The Red Sox went on to cash in with the game-winning run in the following half-inning.

What's ahead?

The Sox have a quick two-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Fenway this week before getting another day off prior to a weekend series against the Astros at Fenway. After that, they'll pack their bags for a road trip that begins with a four-game set against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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