Either that, or it was Jim Rice's appearance on the pregame show in a Red Sox Snuggie...but I'm going to choose to go with the slightly more scientific explanation.
This proved to be the key that unlocked the entire day, as a matter of fact, when in the bottom of the second, Ellsbury on first so distracted Jo-Jo Reyes that he hung a meatball to Lowrie. Jed jumped all over it, homering into the Monster seats to put the Sox up 4-1, which would eventually be your final score.
The rumblings about Lowrie getting more playing time have been steadily increasing this season, and have now reached, if you'll excuse the phrase, fever pitch after today's performance. Much as I love the seemingly kind-hearted Lowrie, I've been conflicted about this idea. His defense in comparison with the more experienced Scutaro has caused me some hesitation, he has yet to get through a season as an everyday player, and the hot hand, as we know, can cool quickly.
But today, in addition to his clutch hitting, Lowrie also made my doubts about his defense look foolish, with a pair of ranging plays in the hole at shortstop that turned potential doubles into singles, even if they didn't earn the out. In fact, such was the Nation's giddiness with the multi-dimensionally clutch performance from Lowrie today that an entertaining new hashtag sprang up on Twitter: #legendofjedlowrie.
Here are some of my favorite Tweets from that thread:
@brianmacp: Jed Lowrie has hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same at-bat.
@ajmangum: In high school, Jed Lowrie once broke up his own perfect game with a single to left.
@ScottLauber: Jed Lowrie gave himself mono so he could test the theory that someone actually could roll out of bed and hit.
@bradfo: Jed Lowrie doesn't need wrists to hit.
@Gnosker: Jed Lowrie carves his bats with a Bowie knife from lightning-struck trees.
@RafeAnderson: he doesn't put his pants on one leg at a time
@SurvivingGrady: Who died and made you Jed Lowrie?
Reshuffled bats start things off, but pitching takes over in the end
In the meantime, some of you may be wondering if I'm running a fever, since I didn't start by mentioning Josh Beckett's crisp performance today, but have no fear. While the Legend of Lowrie deserves its time in the sun, I will also give Beckett proper acknowledgment: amid floundering starters and un-timely bats, he has indeed been a beacon of consistency in his last two starts, an eight-inning, 10 K, two-hit shutout, and a seven-inning, one-run, three-hit, 9K gem, respectively. The Commander currently stands responsible for two of the team's three wins on the entire season so far. Does anything more need to be said?
The problem, of course, is that Beckett and Lowrie can't do everything, much as it tickles our fancy to joke about just that, especially in Lowrie's case.
There could have been -- arguably, should have been -- many more runs plated by the Red Sox today, as it took 9 hits to earn their four scores against some truly woeful Toronto pitching. The Red Sox seem to have fallen into the habit, at least in this early going, of putting runners into scoring position almost every inning, and then stranding them there. That tendency did not change today -- rather, toward the end of the game, it was Red Sox pitching which finally held strong from starter through bullpen, and protected the three-run lead they were left with.
There are lingering worries in the pitching department as well, however. After last night's bullpen implosion, when Jonathan Papelbon came in to close out today's game in the top of the ninth, my nailbiting only increased. At least some of it turned out to be justified.
The first hitter Papelbon faced, Jose Bautista, gave it a ride, but Mike Cameron caught the fly ball off Bautista's bat, crashing against the Monster scoreboard for the first out of the inning. First baseman Adam Lind K'd swinging on an excellent splitter, the 11th strikeout for Sox pitching on the day. With one strike on Aaron Hill, fans were standing up already behind the plate.
That's when Papelbon proceeded to throw the ball well past Varitek -- luckily, there were no men on base. I held my breath before the next pitch. It was up high, ball 3. On the pitch after that, Hill struck a chopping grounder that ate up Youkilis at third. Lowrie backed up Youk, but his relay to first wasn't fast enough to get Hill.
Now Papelbon faced Official Pain in the Ass Travis Snider, with the tying run on deck. It had been Snider who'd knocked in the only Blue Jays run on the day to that point, with a single off Beckett in the top of the second. Snider also quickly went up on Papelbon 3-0.
"Walk'm," a fan was picked up on the NESN microphones saying to Papelbon. "Play the averages."
Papelbon continued to pitch to Snider instead, and Snider eventually popped up to shallow left. (Mike Cameron put bookends on the inning with a sliding catch in the corner.)
Still, though. Still. Paps may be off to a better start than last year, but it's hard to imagine anyone calling for him to deliver an intentional walk even a couple of years ago.
The bottom line, right now, is that with all the losing on the field, we're pretty much expecting the other shoe to drop at all times. Even in our hyperbolic adulation for Lowrie, there is an undertone of sarcasm and pessimism. It's still early in the season, but after the way the last two weeks have gone, it's also too early to call just the third win of the year a turning point.