This story was updated at 12:11 p.m. 9/18 to correct the year the White Sox won the World Series.

Now that Josh Beckett has brought some semblance of relief, there is still concern of a collapse or of the Sox limping into the playoffs.

In terms of collapse, there is recent precedent.

The 2010 Padres were up by six games on Aug. 28.

The 2009 Tigers led by seven on Sept. 6.

The 2007 New York Mets enjoyed a seven-game lead on Sept. 12.

All three teams missed the playoffs.

Boston led the AL East on Sept. 1. Even on Sept. 6, the Red Sox led the wild-card race by eight games.

What if Boston makes the playoffs? There is hope.

Teams have tripped their way into the postseason, then performed quite well.

The 2000 New York Yankees led by nine games on Sept. 13, then finished the year 3-15. Only one pitcher (Roger Clemens) had an ERA under four.

New York squeaked by Oakland in the division series, 3-2; then beat Seattle 4-2 and the Mets 4-1 in the World Series.

The 2005 Chicago White Sox saw their 9 1/2-game lead on Sept. 7 drop to 1 1/2 games, with five games to play. Chicago won its last five, then zipped through the playoffs, sweeping Boston 3-0, beating the Angels 4-1 and sweeping the Astros 4-0.

As for these Red Sox, they remind some of the 2008 team.

That team had a less-than-100 percent Josh Beckett (oblique injury), and a questionable staff.

Daisuke Matsuzaka had a 2.90 ERA, but could he really be counted on in a big game? Jon Lester was just coming on.

Tim Wakefield was, well, Tim Wakefield.

Clay Buchholz ended the year in the playoffs — sent to Double-A with the Sea Dogs in the Eastern League postseason.

The bullpen looked pretty good with Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Manny Delcarmen, with rookie Justin Masterson emerging.

The lineup had a broken-down third baseman (Mike Lowell) who lasted only two playoff games before shutting it down with a bad hip. There was also an untested shortstop (Jed Lowrie) and slumping catcher (Jason Varitek).

Those Red Sox came within one game of the World Series. Tampa Bay Rays beat Boston in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

And what of these Red Sox?

There have been problems, including the Beckett scare, when he came off the mound Sept. 5 with a sprained ankle. He seems ready now.

Lester is a solid No. 2, unless his command escapes him.

John Lackey “battles,” which means he gives up a lot of hits, then pitches out of jams.

Erik Bedard came as advertised — a left-hander with good stuff who often is injured.

Wakefield remains Wakefield.

Buchholz could be a wild card. If he’s able to start and give even four solid innings in a Game 3, it would be a boost.

The bullpen is a cliffhanger. Papelbon is hot. Alfred Aceves is dependable, Daniel Bard has been really on and really off. Everyone else is a maybe.

The key to all this?


When Boston faces another ace (Verlander, Wilson, Sabathia), the Red Sox still feel they have a chance.

The Red Sox have time to put a run together. Teams in the past have done that.

But history also shows that they can blow it.

MINOR LEAGUE awards were passed out by the Red Sox on Saturday, with two former Sea Dogs honored. Right-hander Alex Wilson was named Pitcher of the Year after going a combined 10-4 with a 3.11 ERA with Portland and Pawtucket.

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was named the offensive Co-Player of the Year after hitting a combined .290, with 32 home runs and 93 RBI for Portland and Pawtucket.

He shared the award with outfielder Bryce Brentz, who played for Class A Greenville, and advanced Class A Salem, hitting a combined .306 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI.

Former Sea Dogs left-handed reliever Tommy Hottovy was awarded the inaugural Lou Gorman Award, given to a player who persevered despite obstacles. Hottovy signed a minor league contract this year and reached the majors.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

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Twitter: ClearTheBases