It was colder tonight coming home from work than it had been in the morning on my way in, a sudden change from the weeks of summer just past. By six o'clock, the chill had gone from faint to definite to wielding an almost wintry edge. It wasn't just chilly around here tonight; it was cold. The rain wasn't a downpour so much as a steady, persistent, miserable mist. I would rather have sat in yesterday's rain than have been out at the ballpark tonight. It was dismal just grocery shopping.
The score stagnated like the weather through five, 1-0 Mariners. And then Ryan Langerhans became the unwitting catalyst for change, when he chased eagerly after what might've been a foul ball, only to touch it, then send it bouncing into the field boxes for a ground-rule double. This put runners on second and third for the Sox, who were then batted in by Marco Scutaro.
And then the next inning John Lackey gave those runs right back. I think my dad used a personal record number of exclamation points on his ensuing Facebook post.
Tom Caron later piped up cheerfully on the postgame show to point out that Lackey leads the Red Sox rotation in quality starts this year, and that he got into the eighth inning again, which nobody ever does around here. But right in that moment, as he loaded the bases and then coughed up the lead, let's just say those weren't the things that came to mind about the big mouth-breather.
But tonight, the damage went no further, and the offense bailed him out. Once again, Marco Scutaro delivered with Red Sox at second and third in the seventh. Jerry Remy pointed out he's been adding value at the shortstop position this year even with pinched nerves in his neck and shoulder.
I have to admit I wasn't exactly overjoyed about him at first (I know, how unlike me), having grown attached to Alex Gonzalez, still the best defensive shortstop I've seen play at Fenway, and already ruing the time they got rid of Gonzo for Lugo. And then when Scutaro got off to a rocky, error-prone start this season I longed for Gonzo even more.
But Scutaro has, of course, been a definite offensive improvement over Gonzalez, his defense has settled down nicely, and he has begun worming his way into my heart in late July with a series of clutch performances up to and including tonight's (his endearing, eager turn in A Player to be Named Later also didn't hurt his case).
We have a good team this year. A deep, resilient, and ultimately likable team, a team that would lead several of the league's other divisions and be in a one- or two-game race down the stretch for the rest -- except for the division they play in.