This years Red Sox team has proven to be as resilient as any Boston sports team we’ve seen in the last few years. It seems as though every time this team suffers a crushing defeat, they get right back up the next game and fight for a win. Following Tuesday’s bullpen induced loss, it looked as though the Sox were going to drop a second straight game as they were down 4-1 going into the bottom of the 5th inning. Even when they were able to load the bases with 2 outs, I was not hopeful that they were going to climb back into the game. After attending the game where they managed to squander a bases loaded no outs opportunity in the bottom of the 9th in a tied game, I will never be convinced that having the bases loaded is a good thing. Nonetheless, Hanley Ramirez was able to turn a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 lead with one mammoth swing of the bat.
HanRam absolutely hammered a grand slam to left center field. This felt like more than just a home run. It felt like the moment where the Red Sox offense finally remembered that they’re the best in the game. It’s clearly way too early to say that it was a season saving moment. However, if he strikes out and the Red Sox go on to lose a second straight game to this god awful Tampa Bay team, we might be talking about the beginning of the chicken and beer September collapse part 2. Of course this is all hypothetical. Maybe if they lost Wednesday they would go undefeated for the rest of the season. Maybe this win means nothing and they don’t win another game all year. That’s the beautiful thing about the MLB season. There are 162 games in the season and it’s all about waiting to see how it all plays out each and every day.
One thing that I’ve already seen enough of is this bullpen. Once again, it was the usual suspects nearly costing the Sox the game. The Red Sox had a 6-4 lead going into the top of the eighth. To hold this lead, they sent out Fernando Abad. The last time Abad came into a close game to hold a lead and didn’t allow a run was August 15th against Cleveland. In this game he only faced one batter so you can’t count that. The only other time he has accomplished this feat was August 4th in Seattle. The man who was acquired to be an important high leverage reliever for this team now has only 2 holds and 2 blown saves. This could be due to the fact that he was letting runners on base at a .366 clip coming into play on Wednesday. In comparison, Matt Barnes (who has struggled lately but has been judged WAY too harshly) has 5 holds, 1 save, and 1 blown save in that time period. Abad came in on Wednesday and did what he’s best at. He blew the lead. After ending the 7th inning with a strikeout, Abad started the 8th and wound up loading the bases with 2 outs. With a right handed hitter due up, Abad was pulled in favor of…...who else but Junichi Tazawa.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, opposing hitters had a 1.083 OPS against Tazawa this month. For those of you who aren’t big on stats, I’ll simplify it a little bit. When hitters face Tazawa, they are getting on base, and they are hitting the ball hard. That is not the type of pitcher you want inheriting a bases loaded situation, is it? John Farrell thought it was. This led to the game being tied at 6. Regardless of the fact that they went on to win, this is another bad decision by Farrell and an awful outing by Taz that will be swept under the carpet and ignored after the offense saved both their asses.
The Red Sox have finally capped off their 43 game in 44 day marathon. There have been a lot of ups and down during this stretch, but the only thing that truly matters is that the Red Sox are in position to make the postseason for the first time in 3 years.There's still an entire month of baseball to be played that’s jam packed with series against AL East opponents. It sucks that this one month can make or break the entire season, but that’s why we love sports. The great teams will rise to the occasion, and the not so great ones will crumble. We’re about to get to see what kind of team we’ve been watching this season.