On paper, it looked like the Red Sox might be able to complete this road trip blindfolded and with a perpetual vodka IV drip. The Astros, Royals and Jays? Dude, wake me when we’re 47 games up in the East.
Of course, that’s not how it all came together. Houston shut us down in the first game of the set and the Sox barely escaped KC with their shirts and beards intact. We showed up at the Rogers having gone 3-4 on the trip thus far and really in need of barreling over the Jays like a scene out of 300, metal helmets and spears optional.
Unfortunately, our struggles continued. At least for the first few innings where we couldn’t buy a run. After watching Napoli strike out looking with the bases loaded in the sixth, I figured the night would end with my blood alcohol content hitting some bold new heights. I also became convinced that since Napoli’s beard clearly isn’t helping him get any hits — Naps went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, stranding five — its sole purpose must be sizing this planet up for Galactus.
Yes, we finally broke through in the seventh, when the Ellsbury-Elf-Middlebrooks tandem helped put us ahead, 2-1, but the Jays tied it up in the bottom of the eighth. I was convinced Ortiz was putting us to bed in the top of the tenth when he drilled a screaming fly ball to dead center, but it stayed in the yard, setting the stage for another Napoli K with men in scoring position.
I had a good feeling about the eleventh inning for a number of reasons: one, Napoli likely wouldn’t be batting. Two, the Flyin’ Hawaiian likely would be, and he has become oddly reliable of late for making things happen when we need things to happen most. On cue, he belted a two run single to give us the lead and, a half-inning later, the win.
I suppose the pessimist in me could say that the very fact we were struggling against the Jays, on the heels of a dismal showing in KC, is a red flag. But what’s the point? We got a strong start from Dempster, who clearly received a boost from being back on his Canadian home soil, much like Superman returning to the Fortress of Solitude for a recharge. We also strengthened our lead in the East to four games, as Tampa Bay continued their free-fall.
Celebratory beer and waffles for breakfast? You bet your ass.