I don't know what got into Bill Hall tonight in Toronto, but whatever it is, it can stay.
He'd had me concerned at times last weekend in New York, but against the Blue Jays tonight he turned in a superhuman performance: 2 homers, 3 hits, 4 RBI. They would be only part of a 10-1 final score, but his laser show tonight was what first swung the game's momentum Soxward, breaking a 1-1 tie on his homer in the top of the second and tacking on the first two insurance runs with another bomb in the top of the fourth.
In the field, Hall also turned perhaps the two prettiest double plays we've seen this year, the first of which took Popeye levels of arm strength after a throw from Adrian Beltre deep behind third, and the second of which he accomplished singlehandedly, tagging a runner and then firing to Mike Lowell at first base.
Yes, Bill Hall. That will do quite nicely. By all means carry on with that.
In the dugout, the Sox were goofing, with more Beltre / V-Mart horseplay after Beltre hit a second-decker of his own in the top of the fifth. On his side of the innings, Clay Buchholz remained in command on the mound for eight solid, surrendering just one run despite giving up five hits and having difficulty getting his curveball over for strikes throughout the night. As it turned out, the changeup and cutter would amply suffice.
Overall, there was a feeling tonight like everyone had finally taken a deep breath. A certain swagger seemed to be returning in every step. There have been some times, in other seasons, where I might've shut off a game like this early, the score having pretty much been settled by the fifth inning. But not this one. Not this year. Not because I thought they would blow it, necessarily -- because I wanted to soak it in.
I can hardly wrap my mind around it. I almost don't want to say it out loud...but yes, my friends, the Red Sox have just won three games in a row on the road. And as superstitiously certain as I am that having made that statement means the luck ends here, it's already in the books: three games in a row. Just edging into the 'streak' category, but I will take it.
As far behind in the standings as Toronto is, they seem to have been putting on something of a revival over the last several weeks. Their poor early season play probably sank their playoff hopes for good, but they gave the ailing Tampa Bay Rays a run for their money over the weekend. It's especially gratifying to see the Red Sox roll in and whup ass on the heels of their rivals' humiliation. That doesn't mean I'm making any predictions or bold jinxy declarations--just trying to savor it as long it lasts.
Meanwhile, Dustin Pedroia watching the games from the dugout right now reminds me of a little dog choking itself on a leash. He sat perched on the very edge of the step in Toronto tonight, practically plopped onto the warning track -- as close as he physically could be to actually standing at second base.Word has it he's set to bring shock and awe to Pawtucket this weekend. Much as I love Bill Hall after a night like tonight, Pedroia's return can't come a moment too soon for me, either.