At the halfway point of the season, the Boston Red Sox are five games behind the American League East-leading New York Yankees. That doesn’t look very satisfying, but considering what they have been through it undoubtedly is.

The injury bug that has hit them borders on ridiculous, with many of their impact-players on the shelf. The performance by the pitching staff hasn’t been anywhere near eye-opening, and their offense has missed its usual bop of years past.

Yet, they are 51-37, carrying the third-best record in the American League and fifth best in baseball.

Their lineup has been patched together for the better part of the year. Speedster Jacoby Ellsbury went down 10 games into the season, then Mike Cameron did. Ellsbury is still out and Cameron returned late last month, meaning their outfield was makeshift for a long period of time.

The replacements have stepped up. The offense hasn’t been off the charts, but Daniel Nava, Eric Patterson, and Darnell McDonald have filled in admirably. Clearly they have been good enough considering where Boston currently stands.

The trio has combined to hit .280 with a respectable .348 on-base percentage, nine homers, 43 rbi’s, 41 runs, and 83 hits.

A lot of players in the majors have put together this stat-line by themselves during the season’s first half, but coupled with the production from Marco Scutaro at the top of the order and Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre, and David Ortiz in the middle, the team has scored the most runs in the most runs in baseball, 481, driven in the most rbi’s, 462, clubbed the second-most homers, 118, and sported the third-best average, .276.

Considering Boston has been without Ellsbury, Cameron, Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, and Jason Varitek for a combined 219 games so far, the team’s offensive statistics are quite remarkable.

Their pitching staff has been decimated, too. Ace Josh Beckett has missed a majority of the season due to an arm injury, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and Clay Buchholz have also been hit by the injury bug.

Buchholz, before he went down late last month, was their staff’s best pitcher, winning 10 games to four losses with a sparkling 2.45 ERA. Matsuzaka has made 12 starts and has pitched very well in eight of them. He allowed only eight runs in four June starts, and defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in his last start to tally his sixth win.

Wakefield has been roughed up in a majority of his starts, but he has delivered a few times, his knuckler knuckling its way to three wins.

The quartet has combined to make 49 starts and has an atrocious ERA of 4.88. Yet, they have somehow managed to go 21-15 so far. That’s what good offense can do: make up mediocre pitching.

Offseason acquisition John Lackey hasn’t lived up his contract so far. He has a 4.78 ERA. He has allowed 135 innings in 113 innings, a terrible ratio. And he has given up 60 earned runs in his 18 starts; in 27 starts last year, he relinquished 75 earned runs. Still, he has nine wins, thanks in large part to the surprisingly prolific backing him.

The Red Sox are in a very enviable position despite being hit by injuries. And they can only get healthier. Beckett and Buchholz are set to begin their rehab assignments. Ellsbury rejoined the team for their series against the Blue Jays just prior to the break and is close to returning.

Cameron has swung a hot bat since his return from the disabled list. If he and the rest of the lineup continues to hit, if Ellsbury can return to full strength and be a nuisance at the plate and on the basepaths, if Beckett can pitch like he is capable, if Buchholz can pick up where he left off, if Lackey can develop some consistency, and if the role players can keep coming up clutch, Boston will have an extraordinary chance of catching the Yankees during the hot summer months.

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