The Red Sox have quietly put together one of their best runs in years. While New England has been distracted by the Stanley Cup finals, the Sox have started to look like the team predicted to win the American League by most experts back in the spring.

You remember those predictions, right? The hype surrounding this team was incredible, reaching a high point when the Boston Herald declared the Sox “the best team ever” – before it had played a game.

The media was wrong then. This is not the greatest team ever. At least, not yet.

The media was also wrong when it took a full pendulum swing in the other direction after the Sox lost 10 of their first 12 games. Most publications were calling them the biggest bust ever.

The Sox arrived in Florida on Sunday with the best record in the American League after a 12-1 win over Toronto.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for a team that started so poorly. They have won nine straight games, their longest streak in more than two years.

They haven’t just been winning games, they’ve been dominating the competition. Boston has outscored its opponents 83-36 in that stretch, meaning the Sox have been averaging nearly a run per inning over the last week and a half.

In the middle of it all is Adrian Gonzalez, the hitter the Red Sox traded for in the winter and built their offense around this spring.

He has at least one RBI in each of Boston’s nine straight wins, the longest RBI streak this season

In fact, he’s just the second player in Red Sox history to have an RBI in each of the team’s wins in a nine-game winning streak.

Gonzalez leads all of baseball in RBI, and began the week with the best average in the American League. But he’s not the only Sox hitter producing of late.

The key to the team’s success has been the fact that the entire lineup has been producing. In the last two games, that production has led to 30 runs and 35 hits.

Jacoby Ellsbury has been the spark plug at the top of the lineup, hitting .318 with 49 runs scored and a league-high 24 stolen bases.

David Ortiz is looking like his 2007 self, turning back the clock with a .325 batting average and 17 home runs. Kevin Youkilis has gotten into the swing of things with 20 RBI in the last 24 games.

This is what we expected from the Sox – a team that could bludgeon its way to wins, even when the pitching isn’t in top form.

The pitching has been OK most of the season, but both the starters and relievers have been inconsistent throughout the season. Even after Jon Lester’s eight-inning, two-hit performance on Sunday the Sox team ERA is 4.08, 11th-worst in the game.

That’s been offset by 350 runs scored, the most in baseball. That’s an average of more than five runs a game, more than enough to get the job done most nights.

Back in February, Sox pitcher Josh Beckett brought up the concept of this being a team good enough to win 100 games, the benchmark of a truly great team. That led to the discussion about the Sox being great. Not just good. Great. That discussion turned to hype, and those expectations turned south during a truly horrible April.

Guess what? After all that, the Sox are on pace to win 99 games.

Talking about a team’s pace in baseball is a slippery slope, since things can change with a bad week. The Sox haven’t had many of those lately.

They are 21-6 since May 13, a Friday night that saw the team in New York with a sub-.500 record. Now they’re the hottest team in baseball.

It’s been a quiet run, what with everyone watching the Bruins over the past month. When your attention finally turns back to the diamond, you’re going to like what you see.

 

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.