BOSTON — Cody Ross' majestic walk-off blast on Thursday night had some Red Sox fans mapping out their World Series plans. Friday night's lackluster performance against the Blue Jays has those same fans gearing up for a long offseason.
And "that's baseball" is all you can really chalk things up as after standing around the Boston clubhouse following Friday's defeat, which came just a day after a ninth-inning rally turned that same clubhouse into a scene from Animal House.
It's easy to get caught up in the moment following a win like Thursday's, especially when it comes in the midst of a season when everyone seems to be riding your keister and scrutinizing your every move. In that sense, the mass jubilation across Red Sox Nation was understandable. But in the grand scheme of things, one game and one win — while important — is hardly enough to suddenly forget the flaws that exist.
Friday's defeat at the hands of Aaron Laffey and the Jays serves as a reminder that there's still work to be done, still ground to be made up and still wrongs to be righted in order for the Red Sox to fully say they've turned their season around. Thursday was a start, but a hot start doesn't guarantee a fruitful finish.
Things had been looking up, make no mistake about it, and Ross' walk-off shot and the ensuing celebration were a treat to those stuck in a "what is this team truly capable of?" mindset. After what transpired in the offseason, the rumors of "toxicity" in the clubhouse and everything else that's gone on since last September's collapse, Thursday's win was a breath of fresh air. It gave hope that this team was different after all, and that guys like Ross, with the help of returning players, could bring it to finally reach its potential.
But momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher, and Josh Beckett once again struggled out of the gate on Friday. With the Red Sox falling into an early 4-0 hole, and Laffey looking sharp for Toronto, Boston was doomed from the start.
At that point, it was easy to think we were watching a team that was different than the one that tossed around Gatorade at home plate less than 24 hours prior. But really what we saw was a team that has the potential to go either way down the stretch — something that's been the case all season.
As much as Thursday's big win could help catapult the Sox to new heights in the second half and beyond, it also has the potential to become a footnote in a disappointing season, which John Farrell's club reminded everyone of on Friday.
Now, obviously, Thursday's hope and confidence shouldn't suddenly be replaced by doom and gloom because of one loss. In fact, it's quite the contrary, as balancing out the emotions of each game actually puts everything back to Square 1. That's not necessarily an exciting place to be, but it's probably the safest place to be going into each contest at this time of year.
When you've got 162 games to labor through, peaks and valleys are inevitable. It's just a matter of making sure neither get too high or too low prior to the stretch run, because that creates the toughest route to the top of the mountain.