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Red Sox Notebook: A Brawl, A Sweep, And A Snub For Dustin Pedroia

Everything's golden in Boston with the Sox entering the All-Star break on a six-game win streak. Well, almost everything. There's some bad blood left from the Orioles series, and one man who should be playing on Tuesday won't be getting a shot.

BOSTON, MA - JULY 07:  Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox hits a three run homer against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning on July 7, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 07: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox hits a three run homer against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning on July 7, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Big Bats Back On Track

Last week, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez had both been mired in slumps, but were showing signs of coming out of it.

Well, consider both slumps over and done with.

Maybe all they needed was a return home? Since coming back to Fenway, Gonzalez and Ortiz are a combined 17-for-46 with eleven walks, five doubles, and three home runs.

Orioles Talk, Red Sox Win

The Orioles had a lot to say after David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg's benches-clearing brawl. Nick Markakis called opponents bush league for swinging at pitches in a 6-run game (has he forgotten that the Orioles and Sox have dropped some pretty big leads to one another over the years?), Kevin Gregg complained about the large payrolls that are inflating his own salary, and MASN announcer Jim Hunter bemoaned the big zone of the Sox in a game where the Orioles pretty empirically got the better end of the stick.

The Sox, on the other hand, went out and swept the Orioles by a combined score of 32-13.

The Sox won't face the Orioles again in just one week's time, which should be a big event...for one of the teams. As much as I hate to say it, this feels in many ways like the Red Sox - Yankees feud felt back when the Sox weren't really major contenders. The Sox would go into Yankee Stadium and everyone in Boston would get excited for a chance to "show those [omitted] in New York" while the Yankees treated it as little more than any other game. It's not going to be a rivalry until the season series is in question.

All-Stars Added, But Pedroia Curiously Absent

Almost as inexplicable as the inclusion of Captain Groundout 3,000 in the All-Star Game is the exclusion of Dustin Pedroia. While both Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester have received the call in recent days (despite Lester's injury), Pedroia will not be playing Tuesday night despite turning around a slow start to his season to end the first half as one of the most valuable players in the American League.

Thanks to a great portion of his OPS coming from the more valuable OBP, Dustin Pedroia has not only caught but surpassed starting second baseman Robinson Cano offensively according to wOBA-a stat which directly measures the worth of any given offensive event (singles, doubles, triples, home runs, walks, and strikeouts)--and has always had the superior glove.

The snub may not be quite as great as Andrew McCutchen in the National League, but it's pretty close.

Bullpen Getting The Job Done

After 2010, Theo Epstein knew that the bullpen was an area of serious concern. So far, his biggest acquisition-Bobby Jenks-has fallen more than flat. Good thing, then, that his backups have come through in flying colors.

The most obvious impact has come from Matt Albers, who has suddenly become one of the best seventh-inning options in the entire league. But improvement can be seen throughout. Daniel Bard hasn't allowed a run since May, Jonathan Papelbon has only one blown save despite his 4.04 ERA, and even Dan Wheeler has been impressive of late, allowing just three runs in the 18 innings he's pitched since coming off the disabled list.

This last week has put the depth of this pen to their hardest test yet, and they passed with flying colors. Starting with John Lackey's terrible start against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Sox have only twice had starters go more than five innings. In those games, the pen has had to shoulder nearly 25 innings, and allowed just four earned runs in the process, allowing the Sox to go 4-1 in those games, and even to make a run at the seven run deficit they faced early in their one loss. For once, Theo and the Red Sox can say they're not in need of a reliever come the trade deadline.

Though that doesn't mean he won't pick one up if they're available.

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