By Ted Gay – @TedG63
The Red Sox are in the midst of a storybook season destined to end in euphoric joy or heartbreaking tragedy. We are in either 2003 or 2004 redux. In early June it impossible to determine which road we are traveling, but, however it ends, while it is occurring, we will be entertained.
The storylines that have sprouted from this season seem like they have been created from an FX series’ writers’ room. The grizzled veteran trying to work his way back from a debilitating injury like Cap Rooney. The freewheeling high paid number three hitter whose role is ended in a move that made the Red Wedding seem well forecasted. The troubled, overpaid starter who causes as many problems as he solves. The MVP mysteriously injured before the biggest series of the season. All this and Andrew Benintendi.
This weekend could have been the dramatic mid-season finale. The series with the Astros was overhyped as a measuring stick for the teams’ success. Were they for real? Given the ebb and flow of every season no definitive answer would be achieved by four games in early June, but, like with all good shows, we bought into the hype. If the games weren’t played with playoff intensity, they were witnessed that way.
Of course, the Sox would have to lose their first two games and face baseball’s best pitcher in the third. The Dillon Panthers never went into halftime in a must-win game with a 28 point lead and cruised to victory. They needed to be on their own 20-yard line in the pouring rain down four with ten seconds left when Tim Saracen hit Smash Williams with a bomb to win the game.
Down a run against a cruising Justin Verlander, it seemed the Sox would need a Saracen bomb, but instead, they got a JD Martinez, in the role of JD McCoy, game-tying single and Christian Vazquez, in the role of Landry Clark, hitting the go-ahead home run. Benintendi drove in two insurance runs, Joe Kelly provided added drama, and Craig Kimbrel shut the door while his stance was being mocked by a dweeb sitting two rows behind home plate. If you are going to do the Kimbrel, you need the fake beard. You have to go full on Kimbrel. Half Kimbrel doesn’t work.
While Sunday’s final score difference was six runs, it really came down to the razor-thin distance that Xavier Bogaerts beat Alex Bregman to second base to end the seventh inning. If Bregman had beaten Bogaerts the final score could have been much different. That was also the inning that Matt Barnes, with his K’ing of Jose Altuve, made his full-on face turn and showed he just might have achieved Wilbury status.
The three runs the Sox scored after the force out were a victory lap around the town square, honking the horn and yelling “we belong” momentarily drowning out the naysayers. On Sunday night the Red Sox’s hitters, bullpen, and starting pitching were better than the World Champions, all without Mookie Betts, something inconceivable two nights before.
I don’t know where the Red Sox’s final destination will be, but I do know it will be a trip well worth taking.
ICYMI: EPISODE 51 OF THE AVIDBOSTON PODCAST!!!
SOX RALLY TO SPLIT W/ ASTROS!
WHATS REALLY GOING ON W/ MOOKIE BETTS?
IS DUSTIN PEDROIA’S CAREER OVER?
Also available on iTunes!