Last night, after 12 long innings, I finally got to see my first Sox win of the season -- and a walkoff, no less.
For a good portion of the game it had been shaping up to be a 7-4 Sox win, until an erratic Josh Beckett stayed in a batter too long in the 7th inning. The three-run home run Josh Hamilton hit to tie up the score and change the complexion of the night for good was a towering shot to the bleachers above the triangle, and reminded me of the blast JD Drew hit on the night the Sox hit four homers in a row off the Yankees.
It was interesting that it should be Josh Hamilton ruining Beckett's chance at the win. The two Joshes have crossed paths (in a way) before:
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays ... held the first pick in the 1999 draft and faced a tough decision between [Beckett] and another high schooler with the same first name, Josh Hamilton, a power-hitting outfielder also projected as a can’t-miss kid. Their choice was made for them after Josh [Beckett] visited the home of Tampa Bay owner Vince Naimoli before the draft. Lounging around like the place was his, he called Naimoli “Vince.” At that moment, many of the Devil Rays execs in attendance decided that Hamilton was the better fit for the organization.Speaking of JD and home runs, meanwhile, Drew snapped out of his own slump at the plate last night with a grand slam to the right field corner that erased a 4-1 Texas lead.
It was also a night of redemption for the so-far error-prone Marco Scutaro, whose heads-up tag-up in the bottom of the 12th made it possible to score on Kevin Youkilis's wall-ball single to center field for the winning run.
But what stood out to me most in terms of turnarounds last night was the solidity of the Red Sox bullpen. Bard and Papelbon each stepped up for multiple scoreless innings that lit up the crowd. Bard in particular was impressive, hitting 98 on the gun and fanning three. Papelbon followed up his stellar performance Friday with his own solid two innings, followed by Hideki Okajima, who got the win with a perfect, two-strikeout top of the 12th.
For now I have decided not to dwell on the fact that these walkoff wins the past two nights have come against a struggling Rangers team, which recorded its sixth straight loss last night. In fact, the Rangers have a pretty similar record to the Sox so far this season, per ESPN: 5-9, 2-6 away to the Sox 6-9, 3-6 home. This is not a team that we should ultimately want to match up so evenly against. But after the last week, wins are a much-needed antidote to angst.
As a certain 90's band once sang, "It has to start somewhere, it had to start somehow, what better place than here, what better time than now?"
P.S. Posting will be spotty-to-nonexistent over the next week or so as I'm in the midst of moving into a new apartment.