The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Boston nine going into the bottom of the second last night.
David Price had given up five hits, a walk, and six runs (all earned) in just an inning and a third before Alex Cora pulled him in favor of the bullpen. That’s how bad it has to be for Cora to decide that the bullpen would be a better option. The game felt over from the first pitch, and yet, it also really didn’t.
Because miracles do happen; sometimes, they just take a little time. And over four hours and six minutes, the Red Sox came back from being down 6-1 in the bottom of the second… to win 7-6. Thanks to a tremendous performance from the bullpen and solo shots from JD Martinez in the first, Michael Chavis in the fourth, Rafael Devers in the fifth, and Xander Bogaerts in the 7th, and a monster 3-run homer from Jackie Bradley Jr in the second, the Red Sox got the job done, salvaging a series split against the Texas Rangers, and improving to 36-34.
As Price put it, the key was that they “answered back pretty quick.” Even JD getting them on the board in the bottom of the first inning to make it 4-1 was key for this team, who have often been unable to overcome even a one-run deficit. But the difference-maker was JBJ’s 3-run homer in the second, when the Red Sox were down 6-1. It was only a matter of time before Jackie’s bat heated back up; his offensive performance was the key to the Sox beating the Astros last October, when he had 10 RBIs, all on 2-out extra-base hits. And as Xander Bogaerts said postgame, “it felt different when Jackie hit it out… we kind of got going. I think at that point, we were feeling good about ourselves.”
This team hasn’t had much to feel good about this year. But a game like last night can be a turning point. One of their problems has been that they seem to be letting teams beat them. But for 246 minutes last night, the Red Sox were fighting and clawing their way to that win. And it was invigorating as hell.
Kudos must also be given to the Red Sox bullpen (something I almost never get to say) for holding it down for seven and two-thirds innings. In less than two innings, David Price gave up five hits and six earned runs. In nearly eight innings of work, Mike Shawaryn, Colten Brewer, Travis Lakins, Marcus Walden, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, and Josh Smith combined for four hits and zero runs. They did walk eight batters, but nothing came of that, as the Rangers went 4-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left fourteen men on base. The Red Sox, whose RISP and LOB numbers have been terrifying of late, were 1-for-4 and only stranded five batters.
I keep saying that something will be a turning point, I keep hoping something will finally click: Michael Chavis joining the team, David Price finally defeating the Yankees, needing to win for David Ortiz. But so far, they’ve stayed pretty much the same: an underperforming team that isn’t even close to defending their title. But last night really felt like it.
Can one, big, epic, improbable come-from-behind win fix everything? Well, no and yes. No, it’s not going to magically make our bullpen, lineup, and starting rotation all start succeeding at the same time. But it is encouraging and motivating. It’s the kind of win that makes a team believe they can win, and it can be a real difference-maker.
Photos: BJ Weiss/Red Sox