Sometimes good things come when you least expect them.
The Red Sox had already had six opportunities to get above .500 on the season. 0-0, 10-10, 11-11, 21-21, 22-22, and 23-23. All of them losses, many of them incredibly disappointing losses.
For many of us Sox fans, losing yesterday wouldn't have even been so bad. After all, we didn't expect anything. This was the team which couldn't break .500 with Josh Beckett taking on Gavin Floyd, their best starter in Felix Doubront taking on the beleaguered Brian Matusz, and Jon Lester taking on Alex Cobb. Whether through implosions of the bullpen, deficiencies of the lineup, or failures of the rotation, the Sox managed to disappoint time and again.
So perhaps with Daniel Bard, who has not been terribly promising over the past month taking on arguably the best pitcher currently in the game, some of us didn't even bother hoping. Getting back to .500 behind Felix Doubront was more about avoiding a three-game slide than finally reaching that ever-elusive winning record.
Somehow, though, the Red Sox start today 25-24, and it's thanks largely to two men: one obvious, and the other a huge surprise.
The obvious one is David Ortiz, who had been mired in a slump that left him just 2-for-28 after his homer in Philadelphia. He had shown signs of life against Doug Fister, going 2-for-4 with a double, but really made it clear that he was back last night when he took part in three runs, setting the table in the second with a double, driving in Adrian Gonzalez in the sixth with another, and then launching a solo shot in the seventh to finish the night an impressive 3-for-4 with eight total bases.
The less-obvious contributor--and the reason I'm half-convinced this game never happened--is Daniel Nava. Nava, to be clear, should never have touched this team. After his hot start in 2010 fizzled out, Nava was essentially playing for September and the hopes of a trade to a second or third division team. There just wasn't a place for him on the Red Sox.
Of course, that's the kind of thinking Nava has faced all his life, and it's the sort of thinking he's overcome all his life. With two full outfields riding the disabled list at one point, Nava was given another chance to prove himself, and hasn't given the Sox any reason to regret giving him this opportunity. Still, doing what he did last night takes the improbable and makes it seem completely impossible. The only thing standing between Justin Verlander and escaping a bases-loaded jam, Nava did not seem to stand much chance of emerging victorious. A Cy Young winner like Justin Verlander simply does not lose games to a 29-year-old minor league callup like Daniel Nava.
Except yesterday he did. Falling behind 3-1, Verlander managed to blow a fastball past Nava for strike two, making it seem like everything would go according to script after all. The next pitch, a 100 MPH fastball, should by all means have been the last of the inning. It should have been enough. But it wasn't. Nava put a good swing on it, and while he was a bit late, that only served to help him go to the opposite field, shooting a double down the line and to the wall in left. The bases cleared, and once again Nava was the author of a shocking bases loaded miracle, one which was eventually the difference between the Red Sox and the Tigers last night.
|Final - 5.29.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||1||0||3||1||0||1||0||X||6||11||0|
|WP: Daniel Bard (5 - 5)
SV: Alfredo Aceves (12)
LP: Justin Verlander (5 - 3)