A spark. It can be defined as “anything that activates or stimulates; inspiration or catalyst” or “a trace of life or vitality.” In the case of the Red Sox, it came in the form of a couple of spot starters and a bunch of guys coming off the DL.

For the second night in a row, a no-shot-at-a-win starting pitcher, a just-getting-healthy outfielder and an unlikely hero combined to earn the win and keep the Red Sox breathing. Monday it was Tavares, Manny and Carlos Pena; last night it was Kason Gabbard, Trot Nixon and Coco Crisp. The result was the same: stealing a win from a dominant starting pitcher.

Though Minnesota was busy mopping up Tampa Bay behind Johann Santana, the Red Sox refuse to go out without a fight. Still 6 back in the wild card hunt the team seems to be playing with a renewed sense of desire. The return of Big Papi drew a long standing ovation from the crowd. Ortiz swung for the fences on the first pitch but settled for a walk. His presence alone would have lifted the heart of most Sox fans, but a September win does more than just make a nice story – it keeps playoff hopes alive.

Mike Timlin took a big dump on the heads of those who said he was done by earning a two-inning save to preserve the 1-0 game. And yes, I’ll be one of those giving their hair a good scrubbing.

While many had resolved to just hope for some good baseball during the last few weeks, good baseball means wins and wins mean hope. Even the wild card is still a longshot, but isn’t it why we’re here? The thought of scraping together a win streak and going into the last week of the season with a chance? To limp into the playoffs and catch fire and make something magical against the odds? That’s why I’m here. If it doesn’t happen, we look back at some good times, lament all the injuries, and start the countdown until pitchers and catchers report. But if it does happen…