Now wait, before you judge: punching walls is a good thing. At least as I see it. Sure, the wall hates it and the noise gives the neighbors even more fodder for their eventual lawsuit against me. But if the Boston Red Sox, owners of the worst record in the American League, can still inspire me to bouts of screaming, drinking and wall-sparring, then they’re doing something right.
This weekend’s series against the Mets already had me in a drinky mood because, goddam it, it’s the Mets and I’m old enough to remember watching with young eyes as the ball rolled through Buckner’s legs. So the odds were already stacked against me… and the wall. And through the first six, as the Sox coughed up a lead on sloppy play, despite Henry Owens’ impressive pitching, and our bats conjured nothing against Matt Harvey, I could already feel my fists balling up.
But then the seventh inning came and when the Mets bullpen took over, the Sox went to work with three runs including a two-run dinger from the recently-reborn Jackie Bradley Jr.
Chew on this: over his last 14 games, JBJ is hitting .415 with 7 doubles, 3 triples, 5 home runs and 21 RBIs. When he first started blasting home runs, I was quick to chalk it up as a fluke. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe the offense is here to stay. The man’s hitting .261 right now (up from around .110 when he got called up) and if we got that every year to complement the exceptional glovework, I’d take it.
But anyway, you knew the Sox bullpen would give it right back, and they did, with Alexi Ogando walking 3 and giving up a hit in 0.1 innings of work. I know there is likely hard data to the contrary, but to my naked eyes, it seems like Ogando shits the bed almost every time he’s brought in to hold a lead.
Fast-forward to the tenth. And, yes, for those who remember 1986 so vividly, the thought of a tenth inning in New York against the Mets doesn’t conjure warmth and fuzziness. But this time, the bats came through, including a kinda-inside-the-park-home-run by Blake Swihart, here condensed to a 6-second vine:
After another JBJ RBI and Xander’s second hit of the night to drive in a third run, things looked relatively safe as we headed to the bottom of the tenth. That’s when the bullpen threatened to blow things up again, with Taz — clearly looking to show Ogando how it’s done — walking four batters in a row. When the Mets’ free run crossed the plate, making it 6-4 with the bases loaded, fist met wall.
By the time Craig Breslow stepped in to put out the fire, with the potential winning run aboard and the always dangerous (and well-eyebrowed) Yeonis Cespedes at the plate, I had already dropped about 5 pounds from pacing and ranting and shotgunning Coors. Mercifully, Breslow shut the door and we all hit the floor happy.
It was just another night watching a last-place team go through the motions on a lost season. But it felt like the goddam seventh game of the World Series. With the “future” of the franchise — JBJ, Xander Bogaerts, Owens and Swihart — all playing critical roles. Hell, David Ortiz even hit his 493rd home run.
Even better: this time, in a tenth-inning do-or-die situation in NYC against the Mets, we got the win.
Thanks, Red Sox, for that.
PS: The REAL star of the game? Henry Owens’ hair!