|Bobby Valentine: ‘Keep winning series and we’ll be just fine’||08.02.12 at 12:13 am ET|
The second wild card in each league has drastically changed the landscape of hopeful playoff contenders around big league baseball.
Take the Red Sox, for example.
After their 7-5 loss to the Tigers, they fell back to one game over .500 at 53-52 but still remain within striking distance of a playoff spot in the American League. They are just two games back of the Tigers (55-50) and both teams feel they have what it takes to overcome the Angels and Athletics.
But more to the point, the Red Sox have followed up a 1-6 stretch by winning consecutive series over the AL East-leading Yankees and the Tigers. Before getting swept at home by Toronto, they also had taken 3-of-4 from the White Sox, the leaders of the AL Central. That’s cause enough for hope and optimism from Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine.
“I was real proud of the way the guys battled that game,” he said after Wednesday’s loss. “That’s another series we win. Win a couple of series against tough teams, that’s Yankees and Detroit. Keep winning series and we’ll be just fine.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was happy to take 2-of-3 from the Tigers but sounded a much more urgent tone postgame.
“You don’t expect to win every game from here on out, obviously, but we have to win every series,” Saltalamacchia said. “That’s something we definitely have to do. Just continue to keep going. Every win counts, especially at this point, so we just have to continue to go. We have a lot of games against our division.”
Since the All-Star break, the Red Sox have been what they’ve been all season – a .500 team showing occasional signs of breaking out against good teams. They are 10-9 in the 19 games since heading into the break with their worst mark since 1997. That ’97 team never got itself on track in the second half while this team has an extra wild card to shoot for.
“Definitely, when you have that extra wild card, it definitely plays a factor in everything you do,” Saltalamacchia said. “Every win counts. We saw that last year. One win kept us out of the playoffs. So, at this point, that’s what we’re looking at. One win is what we need, and then we have to go for the next one and the next one. I think that does help in a way, especially where we’re at now. We have to keep winning.”
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