RED SOX INSIDER

Tomase: First-place Red Sox striking a more defiant tone

RED SOX INSIDER

The Red Sox started the season with an "Aww, shucks," demeanor after winning nine straight games to establish themselves as a legitimate problem in the American League East.

One month later, as owners of the best record in baseball, their personality is morphing into something more along the lines of, "Still don't believe in us? Bleep you."

If they continue to play at this 22-13 pace, they'll win 102 games. From the little team that could, they are very quickly morphing into a locomotive, and they don't mind who knows it.

"I know the people say we're not going to be good this year, and I'm sorry at the word I'm going to say, but we're (bleeping) good," said left-hander Martin Perez recently.

"We believe in each other as a team," said third baseman Rafael Devers after homering in a win over the Orioles on Sunday. "It's you guys that don't believe in us."

"The atmosphere is loose," added unbeaten starter Nick Pivetta. "The guys are having the time of their lives. We've got a good thing going here."

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The Red Sox have earned the right to start playing the "nobody believed in us" card, because even those who acknowledged they might be "sneaky good" assumed that meant a ceiling of about 85 wins, not 102. But as we approach the magic 40-game mark that most teams wait to hit before deciding what's real and what needs fixing, the Red Sox are playing like a club that doesn't intend to go anywhere all summer.

 

If it feels like they've been in every game, that's because they basically have. They've been blown out exactly twice -- an 11-3 loss to the Orioles to complete a season-opening sweep that had us believing the sky was falling, and a noncompetitive 8-2 loss to the Mariners three weeks later. Otherwise, they've given themselves a chance in every game.

That's not easy to do over the course of 162, especially on those nights when you clearly don't have it and can just as easily pack it in for tomorrow. The Red Sox could've surrendered to Mets ace Jacob deGrom two weeks ago, for instance, especially coming off a 2-1 victory that had already guaranteed them a series split on the road.

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Instead, they squeezed out one run when catcher Christian Vazquez rifled a 100 mph fastball the other way, and Pivetta and the bullpen made it stand in a 1-0 victory.

"Everybody is ready to play every day," Pivetta said. "We have a great rhythm going on. We're never out of baseball games, as you've heard me say 100 times ... We're just never out of it."

The Red Sox are starting to feel like one of those teams we perpetually assume will fall back to earth, but instead remains in orbit until October. They're the kind of team that can bench Franchy Cordero after a 1-for-34 slump, be forced to play him in an emergency when a starter is injured, and then watch him record three hits and a game-saving catch in a win over the Tigers.

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They're about to be legitimately tested without regulars Kiké Hernández and Christian Arroyo, who just hit the injured list with hamstring and hand injuries, respectively. Michael Chavis stepped in at second base on Saturday and promptly launched a two-run homer. Will anyone be surprised if reserve Jonathan Arauz finds a way to contribute to a win sooner than later?

That's just the kind of roll the Red Sox are on right now. They're good and they know it and if you don't want to believe in them, that's your call, but understand this: that train is leaving the station.