Adrian Gonzalez(notes) #28 of the Boston Red Sox is congratulated by teammate Carl Crawford(notes) #13 after Gonzalez scored in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs on May 22, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

Over a month ago I wrote about the horrific start the Boston Red Sox had to the season and how they couldn’t continue that way for long because they’d find themselves well out of the playoff race.

If you recall 0-6 led to 2-10.  The team showed some life in a California road trip and then after getting to within a game of .500 they once again faltered.

In fact they would get to within a game of .500 five times before finally climbing that hill against Detroit at 20-20.  Don’t look now but they are 27-22 on the year after taking 2 of three in Cleveland and 13 days into a 20 games in 20 days stretch they are 10-2 with one rainout.

So what has led this team from that awful start to going 25-12 in the last 37 games?  Well let’s take a look.

Josh Beckett.  Or as Ian likes to call him “Commander Kickass” has been well, just that.  Since his season opening start in which he gave up 3 earned runs in just five innings in Cleveland and took a loss he has 7 quality starts (6 IP or more giving up 3 ER or less) in his 9 starts since. The only two he failed to have a quality start in were in Baltimore on April 27th 6 IP and 4 ER and at home against the Los Angeles Angels on May 4th he was removed after 4.1 IP with 0 ER due to a rain delay.  So far this season in his 7 quality starts he has allowed a total of 5 ER.  Beckett is 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA and a WHIP of 0.82.

Jon Lester.  Despite his little 3 game slump which ended today against Cleveland and opening day against Texas, Lester has been awesome.  He has 7 quality starts all in a row from his second start until he had a rough outing at Toronto on May 10th.  His best outings this season have been against Cleveland where in 14 IP he has allowed 0 ER wile striking out 16 and against Angels he has pitched 13 innings and allowed 1 ER and has 19 K’s.  Lester leads the majors in wins with 7.  The only issues with him have been his walk totals and his HR’s allowed (9).

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Jonathan Papelbon.  The closer has once again been “Lights Out Paps”; he looks like the Papelbon of old and is making 2010 seem like an aberration.  He has 9 saves in 10 chances, an ERA of 2.51 and has struck out 27 hitters.  The biggest thing with Pap has been the re-emergence of this velocity and the fact he has gotten a lot of swings and misses.  The free agent to be closer has had 8 scoreless appearances out of 11 this month.  And in those 11 appearances, he has had five games with multiple strikeouts.  He is 2-0 this month with 4 saves in 5 chances.  His blown save was the only appearance in which he pitched longer than 1 inning (vs. Minnesota on May 9th).  He only has two appearances this season that are longer than 1 IP and both were 1.1 IP with the other resulting in a save at Oakland on April 20th.  Papelbon’s continued success at the backend is essential to the team’s success this season.

Clay Buchholz. The 26-year-old right handed starter has had a good May after a so-so April and has been one of the pitching cogs in the turnaround.  Buchholz started 1-3 with a no decision in April but has turned that all around.  In May he is 3-0 with 4 quality starts and has allowed just 6 ER in 33 IP with 26 K’s this month.  He once again looks like the starter the team hoped they had drafted.

Adrian Gonzalez.  Gonzo has been as advertised that’s for sure.  Sweet swing, good power and so smooth in the field.  The only thing he doesn’t do is run.  In fact it looks as if he might be standing still and just flailing his arms. He is hitting .340 with 9 HR and a MLB leading 43 RBI. In May he has had a four game hit streak, then an eight game hit streak and he now has a five game hit streak.  He has been hitless in only four games the entire month. He has 8 multi-hit games, and of those eight multi-hit games he has three games with 3 hits and 2 games with four hits.  He has 8 HR’s in May and had a 2 HR game at Toronto on May 10th.  He also has driven in 25 runs this month and has 8 games with multiple RBI.  Four games he has driven in 3 runs and he drove in four runs last weekend in a game against the Chicago Cubs.  He will be an AL MVP candidate.

David Ortiz.  Big Papi had no slow start this season he is hitting .303 with 10 HR and 23 RBI.  This is the latest in a season he has been above .300 since 2007.  While the 35-year-old DH isn’t on the RBI pace of Gonzalez but he has been hitting and knocking in runs when they’ve been needed.

Jacoby Ellsbury.  He has been pretty consistent since spring training with the exception of a small slow period at the start but then again the whole team had a slow starting period.  He has as many RBI as Ortiz (23), he has hit 4 HR’s and he is hitting .295 with a MLB leading 17 steals.

Other players have played bit parts in the turnaround as well.  The club has gotten some timely contributions from Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Jed Lowrie, Daniel Bard, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek.  But occasional contributions among those players need to be consistent and on a regular basis.

This team is finally starting to look like the club we thought they’d be in the off season and the best part is they did it without falling too far behind in the standings and being double digit games out come Memorial Day.

Follow Steve on Twitter @djstevem

Photo credit: Elsa – Getty Images