NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

July 16, 2013

Red Sox lead majors with 58 wins at All-Star break

BOSTON — The expensive flops are gone. So is the misfit manager. And the Boston Red Sox are winning again.

Winning more than any other team in major league baseball.

That’s 58 wins, most in the majors and just 11 fewer than they had all last season.

Keep up the .598 pace they have at the All-Star break and they’ll finish with 97 wins, 28 more than last year when they had their worst record in 52 years.

“Overall, very proud of the way this team has played,” manager John Farrell said in his usual low-key manner. “The number of guys that we’ve called upon have contributed. Our guys deserve a much-needed couple of days off here.”

His steady style and reluctance to criticize players is just what the Red Sox needed after one disastrous season under Bobby Valentine, who rarely wandered far from the spotlight even if it meant knocking his players publicly.

The Red Sox also needed a more cohesive clubhouse.

They got that by trading disgruntled Adrian Gonzalez, injured Carl Crawford and declining Josh Beckett — and unloading more than $250 million in salaries — to the Los Angeles Dodgers last August and adding consistent, if unspectacular, contributors like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp and Koji Uehara.

And with Clay Buchholz sidelined since improving to 9-0 on June 8, Allen Webster, Alfredo Aceves and Brad Workman helped fill the void.

When third baseman Will Middlebrooks was sent to the minors after struggling and shortstop Stephen Drew was injured, there were solid reinforcements. Slick-fielding Jose Iglesias is batting .367 as Drew’s replacement, and Brock Holt and Brandon Snyder have combined for 14 RBIs in 19 games at third.

“We’re at 42 players and counting,” Farrell said. “Seventeen above and beyond the 25 players who began the season. We have a number of talented guys. We can tap into a good group of players who have made significant contributions.”

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