What a difference a year makes: Red Sox clinch playoff spot with win over Orioles
Fast forward to yesterday.
Last night, the Red Sox beat the Orioles 3-1 and clinched a playoff spot behind a complete game gem from Lackey, who has pitched marvelously this year, with a 121 ERA+. That's in stark contrast to the last season he pitched. In 2011, he had a 6.41 ERA and a 67 ERA+.
The Sox are a completely different team from the embarrassments of 2011 and 2012. The 2011 collapse and the Bobby Valentine era of 2012 are a thing of the past, and John Farrell et al have created a new culture of winning that is reminiscent of the 2004 and 2007 teams.
Am I saying this Red Sox team will win the World Series? Nope.
But can they? Yes, absolutely. They're as good as any team in baseball right now, and every honest Red Sox fan will tell you that they've already exceeded all expectations for this year.
Now, what's the next step?