by Ted Cox
Yet to appreciate where the Sox are, we who aren't on the field of play should perhaps step back and examine where they've been. The Sox just endured by far their most difficult stretch of the season. They came out of the All-Star break leading the division, but facing a three-week stretch of 19 games, 16 of them on the road, and in difficult locations as well, such as Boston, Detroit, Texas, and the always-demanding Minneapolis.
The Sox won a respectable seven of the 16 road games, so combined with the three home games they swept from the Twins they were 10-9 over that demanding stretch. They left after the All-Star break three games up, and returned home Friday still two and a half games in front of the Tigers.
That's weathering the storm.
The season almost opened up under their feet when they lost five in a row on the road midway through the stretch, including being swept in Detroit to allow the Tigers to claim first place. Yet, righted by the sweep of the Twins at home, they went on to win road series in Texas and Minnesota in moving back into first.
They won a big game Friday on their return home for Elvis night, with the rejuvenated Alex Rios hitting a walk-off two-run homer in the tenth. It was their 11th win their last 12 home games, and—perhaps even more important—the Elvis Night crowd of 32,060 was their fourth straight with an attendance above 30,000.
Looks as if Sox fans are prepared to fully embrace their team for the stretch run. I've still got my Dog Night tickets September 26 targeted as the clinch date.