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The Sports Edge Seems like (not so) old times

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The Sports Edge  Seems like (not so) old times (AP photo/Michael Dwyer)

The recent weekend sweep of the New York Yankees by the Red Sox was a thing to behold, as it not only solidified the team's playoff position for the first time since 2013, but effectively ruined anyremote chance that the Yankees could get in. It also sent other teams in baseball the clear message that, despite their many ups and downs along the way, this team is peaking at the right time.

The Yankees series, the first four-game sweep by Boston over New York in twenty-six years, highlighted a key component in this team's September surge - the fact that they can suddenly come from behind. The old adage was that no lead is ever safe at Fenway, but opponents are finding that no lead is safe against these this team - period.

Top to bottom, this Red Sox lineup is stacked. Some of this was expected, as fans have watched the continued growth into stardom of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, but some of this year's firepower carries with it that sprinkling of magic dust that happens only in those seasons to remember.

A few examples:

Dustin Pedroia - the 2008 MVP, lest we forget - has had his best year since that award-winning season, staying healthy, contending for a batting title and playing some of the best defense of his career.

Jackie Bradley Jr. still has some streaks where he looks a bit lost, but those stretches have grown shorter and he now displays the power that many thought would eventually surface, along with being perhaps the best defensive outfielder in baseball.

Like a lot of people, I was ready to trade Hanley Ramirez for a toaster oven after last season's sleepwalk, but he has been a new man this year: posting career power numbers, playing a solid first base and turning into a positive force in the clubhouse that few could have envisioned.

And finally, if you saw journeyman catcher Sandy Leon transforming into Carlton Fisk, I'd like to invite you to Vegas for a weekend. Sure, there have been times when he's been overmatched in some late-inning clutch situations, but it's hard to argue with the overall numbers.

The starting rotation, which was a major concern early in the year, has solidified behind the season-long consistency of Rick Porcello, who has found a new level of comfort in his second year at Fenway. David Price has bounced back from his early struggles to show the kind of talent and durability that has made him a perennial Cy Young contender.

It may get a little shaky after that; one writer has suggested the line 'Porcello and Price and roll the dice.' That said, Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz, and the much-maligned Clay Buchholz have all come through with big games at various times this seasonand you don't need too many of those in the postseason to be drinking champagne round Halloween.

And here in the month of September, the bullpen has emerged as the final piece of the puzzle. Craig Kimbrel has been exactly what they paid for at the back end, while the rebirth of ageless Koji Uehara has enabled people to slide into roles that better suit them roles like Brad Ziegler in the seventh inning or Matt Barnes never coming near a high-leverage situation.

Can they win it all for the fourth time in this young century? Perhaps not, but this team has at least delivered on the promise of the offseason, made October baseball a reality again and has begun to erase some of the bad taste of those three last-place finishes in four years.


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