I am well aware that there is probably too much hyperbole in sports. Lose the first two games of the NFL season and many fans will cry, “The season’s over.” I understand how athletes and coaches can get frustrated with such fair-weather fans and certainly to say the season is over for the Red Sox if they had been 2 ½ games back from first and in command of the 2nd wild card spot come the first day of August may to some seem like a stretch, but I truly believe Dustin Pedroia last night may have saved the Boston Red Sox whole season.
First and foremost, let’s set the table. With two men on, Mookie Betts saw a 2-Strike pitch swoop just by the outside corner of the plate. A ball that could have easily been called a strike to end the game and the series especially given how liberally the home plate umpire was calling that pitch a strike throughout the game. Instead, the umpire kept his hands down and a few seconds later Mookie Betts slapped a single into right resulting in a 3-1 score with two men on for Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia who throughout his career has been a very clutch player hasn’t had such luck this season. In fact the whole Red Sox offense (Besides David Ortiz of course) hasn’t been very clutch this season. Before Sunday, the Red Sox had been 2-38 when trailing after eight innings. Moreover the Red Sox have only had two walk off wins all season tying them in last place in the AL in that statistic with the Tampa Bay Rays. Ungaudy stats considering the historic offensive production the Red Sox have had this year. So when Pedroia lifted Street’s pitch out of center field with two outs in the ninth to give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead against the Angels last night, I believe it was undoubtedly the biggest hit of the Red Sox season and may have just saved their season.
Let's consider that the Red Sox have been one of if not the coldest teams in baseball the past couple of weeks and in my opinion are incredibly fortunate to be in the situation they are in currently. The Orioles have been steady all season and the Blue Jays have been scorching hot of recent. Not to mention the Astros have been playing great baseball and Detroit is coming out of nowhere winning their last 6 games (3 of which were against our Red Sox). The Red Sox came into Sunday's game 1-6 in their last 7 games after they took the AL East lead and were 2 ½ games out of first place. They were undoubtedly trending downward and Pedroia’s late inning heroics is the kind of hit that can turn the tides of the whole season.
David Ortiz is undoubtedly the heart of this Red Sox team, but I would argue Pedroia is the heartbeat. Pedroia is the guy who will get on a teammate if he isn’t playing well (see Hanley Ramirez and Eduardo Rodriguez). He will even act as a member of the coaching staff and help with his teammates mechanics (See David Price). So to see Pedroia come through when the Red Sox were headed to their rock bottom was remarkable to witness especially considering how relatively “unclutch” this team has been throughout the season besides the legendary Big Papi.
Pedroia’s home run was followed by another home run by the young Superstar shortstop Xander Bogaerts and moments before when Mookie was a centimeter away from being rung up to give the Red Sox another series loss to a struggling Angels team, the tides turned and the Red Sox ended up winning the game 5-3. This is the kind of win that Red Sox fans and I’m sure players have been waiting for. Not only a late-inning come from behind win, but also a fun and motivating win. This win I believe saved the season and I am excited to see if it does in fact result in a struggling team becoming hot and taking the AL East which they are now just a game and half back from. If this does prove to be the case, you can look to July 31st and say that was the game and Pedroia’s hit was the reason.