Jacoby Ellsbury Rejoining Red Sox For Stretch Run

Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox is helped off the field was injured in a double play in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during the home opener at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Red Sox' injury-riddled outfield is about to get healthier, with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury reportedly to come off the DL this weekend and play for the first time since early April. Is it too late for the Sox, though?

The Boston Red Sox are tied for last place.

The Boston Red Sox are 9½ behind the first-place Yankees. The Yankees.

But all is not lost. Yes, the American League East is almost certainly lost. But man, those two Wild Cards? And especially the second, slightly lesser, of those two Wild Cards? That's totally up for grabs. At this point, all that matters to the Boston Red Sox is that second Wild Card. After last season's disastrous finish and the high expectations for this season, they're not going to give up until the numbers compel them to give up.

And the numbers? The Red Sox are 2½ games out of that second Wild Card. The only teams ahead of them are the Orioles, the Indians, and the Rays. The Orioles and Rays have been outscored; the Rays are one bad game away from being outscored this season. The Red Sox have the fifth-best run differential (+43) in the American League, and they're about five minutes away from having the fourth best.

So the numbers compel them to do the opposite of giving up. Especially with this good news:

Last year, Ellsbury might have been the best player in the league. This year, he's played seven games. Also this year, the Red Sox' top three outfielders have been Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney, and Daniel Nava. Ross and Nava have actually been quite good, but Ellsbury makes the lineup look quite a bit better.

Rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks is schedule to come back soon, too.

No, the Red Sox still won't be completely healthy; Dustin Pedroia's out, and will be out for most of this month, at least. But with Ellsbury back and Clay Buchholz rejoining the rotation, the Red Sox are finally starting to look something like the team they figured to have all season.

Well, without Kevin Youkilis and still without Carl Crawford. So maybe not a team like the one they figured to have. But one just as good.

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