It’s June 19 and the Red Sox are in first place, seven games ahead of the always-tough Rays after a doubleheader sweep on a long day and night at Fenway Park.
But that isn’t the surprising part.
No, the surprising part is that the Red Sox have maintained their status atop the AL East despite two starts in the past 27 days from ace Clay Buchholz, lefty Jon Lester’s 7.20 ERA in his past six starts, and on top of everything else, a closer crisis involving Andrew Bailey.

After a 5-1 win against the Rays in the rain-interrupted matinee portion of yesterday’s doubleheader, the Red Sox got an honest-to-goodness gem from Felix Doubront in the nightcap. The 25-year-old carved up the Rays like a Thanksgiving turkey, allowing three hits and no walks, retiring 17 batters in a row, and throwing only 93 pitches en route to completing the eighth inning for the first time in 44 career starts.
If only manager John Farrell had allowed him to pitch the ninth.
Even though Doubront had exceeded 100 pitches seven times this season, he was lifted for Bailey, who yielded a game-tying homer to Kelly Johnson on only his second pitch. Bailey has allowed homers in three of his past four outings and blown two of his past four save chances.
And so, it took Jonny Gomes’ two-run, walkoff homer over the Green Monster against Rays reliever Joel Peralta to secure a 3-1 victory and take Farrell off a rather large hook.
“There was some thought of (leaving Doubront in the game),” Farrell said. “He handled everyone in that lineup well tonight. But that’s Andrew’s job. He’s our closer.”