The Red Sox beat the Orioles 6-5 Wednesday in a manner so improbable that I'm still not entirely sure it even happened.
At the beginning of the year, Scott Podsednik was just barely still in baseball. He'd spent the entirety of 2011 in the minor leagues, and started 2012 in the same place. What's more, he wasn't particularly good there, managing only a .609 OPS in 31 Triple-A games this year.
Daniel Nava had been out of the majors for just as long, with his career path on a decided downward trend ever since the grand slam he hit on his first major league pitch. He seemed, for all the world, like a Quadruple-A player who might occasionally see some time starting for second division teams--in fact, he might still be that, but yesterday was another story.
As for Kelly Shoppach, he was the only one who actually had a place with the Red Sox coming into the season, which was frankly a bit shocking given his .185/.285/.340 performance over the last two years.
So how did we get here? How did these men come together to provide the Red Sox with a big win on Wednesday? More injuries than you can shake a stick at...and a hot streak by an entirely different player.
The number of men Nava and Shoppach had between them and a place in the starting lineup to start the year was substantial. Podsednik wasn't even in the organization! Slowly but surely, however, the Sox started to fall. Ryan Kalish has been hurt one way or another for over a year now, Crawford went down over the offseason, and Ellsbury joined them on the disabled list after just seven games. The initial depth at the position in the likes of Jason Repko and Darnell McDonald did not survive much longer, but that still left the two intended to be a right field platoon in Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross.
Then Sweeney concussed himself, Ross broke his foot, and suddenly there they were. Daniel Nava in left, Scott Podsednik in center, and the Sox roster reading more like an ICU guest book than anything else.
But why was Shoppach so surprising? Simply because he should ideally never be taking at bats from Jarrod Saltalamacchia against a right-hander like Jake Arietta. Sure enough, however, there he was, getting the nod thanks to the six straight games in which Saltalamacchia spent some time behind the plate, riding a hot streak during which he's hit 13-for-33 with three homers. Had the hot Salty not been facing some southpaws, it seems unlikely that Kelly Shoppach and his platoon splits (however reversed they are so far this year) would have been in the game so early.
Three homers from three players who nobody would have expected to be starting in this situation back in April. Two of whom we may not even have expected to be with the team at any point in the year.
He we are, however, with May winding down, a banged up team, and a win provided by the unlikeliest of sources. At this point, Sox fans will take whatever help they can get.
|Final - 5.23.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||1||1||0||0||3||0||1||0||6||13||0|
|WP: Daniel Bard (4 - 5)
SV: Alfredo Aceves (11)
LP: Jake Arrieta (2 - 5)