Two Days, Three Wins: Red Sox Sweep the Rays

Filed in Headline, Sports by on September 13, 2009 0 Comments

In the past twenty-four hours, the Red Sox have won three games while increasing their AL wild card lead to a comfortable four games. The Rays have been nothing but a nuisance the past season and a half, the perpetual thorn in the side of the Red Sox (think last year’s ALCS.) Yet, with a slim wild card lead on the line, Boston came out confident, fearless, every player playing like this was the postseason.

After rain postponed the start of the series, things finally got under way last night with, what else, more rain shortening that contest to six innings. Behind a strong outing from Josh Beckett and a monstrous third inning outburst akin to an unfair little league game—the Red Sox batted around, scoring eight runs in the inning—the series was off to a positive start. Then today, Boston’s prized young hurlers turned in their own dazzling displays en route to victories. In the opener Clay Bucholz threw eight innings of one run ball against Matt Garza, who has been the most successful Rays starter against the Red Sox (again, think last year’s ALCS.) In the nightcap, emerging ace John Lester too went eight innings, giving up no runs on just two hits.Red Sox Nation

Though it sounds obvious, this is exactly the kind of baseball the Red sox need to be playing right now. Everyone is chipping in; hitters are coming through in the clutch, and the pitching staff is near perfect. Any trouble is quickly silenced with a multi-run inning on offense and a ream of strikeouts on defense. With such quality performances, the Red Sox have won five straight and six out of the last seven.

Even more notable is that with this sweep of the Rays, the Red Sox locked up a split of the season series: nine games apiece, with each team going 6-3 at home. While it was expected for Boston to drop most of the games in Tampa given the curse that strange dome has placed on the Red Sox, it was not so expected that they would win two thirds of their home games against a team which continues to confound them both offensively and defensively. Yet now, suddenly, the Red Sox awful luck in Tampa Bay has been rendered moot.

Heading into this series, I expected nothing but terrible, terrible news. I expected half of the Red Sox lineup to go not just hitless, but contactless, whiffing their way to a record strikeout total. I expected the previously unpredictable youngster Bucholz to show more flashes of his inexperience by giving up dozens of walks before Francona, his jaw stuck shut with a wad of bubblegum until the fourth inning, could get on the phone to call for a reliever. Naturally, I then expected this reliever to give up dozens of more walks until Francona, who would have been across the street at a CVS buying even more bubblegum, would return and call for a third pitcher. And so on.

I really shouldn’t be so pessimistic about the home team. I wasn’t even alive for the vast majority of the Curse. Not even Buckner’s infamous wicket moment. Maybe it’s that strong New England pessimism, a facet of our character so deeply, historically entrenched like Puritanism and bad driving habits that keeps me thinking so negatively, constantly expecting the bad to be followed immediately, for maximum effect, by the worse.

Whatever the root, I need to look on the bright side more often, to stop expecting failure from a team that has proven it is not destined to fail. Things are looking up for the Red Sox, and with a postseason berth an almost certain reality, it’s about time to stop dreading big games and to start enjoying them again.

Photo credit: Oscalito

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