BOSTON — It was long. It was eventful. And, in the end, it was productive.
The Red Sox overcame fatigue, rain, their own shortcomings and even traffic en route to sweeping Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Rays. The Sox notched a 5-1 win in an elongated Game 1, and they finished off the action-packed twin bill with a 3-1 walk-off victory in the nightcap.
It was an interesting day for an interesting team.
“I think it’s out of cups. It’s more ounces,” outfielder Jonny Gomes said when asked how much coffee he drank during Tuesday’s marathon doubleheader. “During the end, all these refills. [It was] a long day at the yard, and two wins kind of sums it all up. Go home, pack, hopefully get one more [win on Wednesday], and then go on the road.”
Sure, “two wins” sums up the doubleheader for Boston, and the victories are all that really matter. But before Gomes punted his helmet in jubilation following his walk-off homer in Game 2, we were treated to an all-around wacky day at Fenway.
It didn’t take long before the news cycle started ramping up Tuesday, as manager John Farrell said Clay Buchholz’s disabled list fate would be determined after the right-hander threw at 11 a.m. That throwing session was eventually pushed back to between Games 1 and 2, but the news led to speculation, anticipation and, before long, a very highly anticipated bullpen session, during which a few reporters covering the Red Sox even began using the hashtag “#BuchholzWatch2013” on Twitter. (The Red Sox announced shortly after the start of Game 2 that Buchholz had been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 9.)
Farrell putting everyone on “Buchholz Watch” only set the tempo for Tuesday’s day at the park. Reporters in the press box were left briefly scratching their heads before Game 1 even started up. Alfredo Aceves was the scheduled starter for Game 1, but prior to game time, Franklin Morales made his way out to the bullpen. Aceves, meanwhile, was nowhere in sight, and that led to confusion, as some even wondered if a last-minute change was in effect. Aceves eventually emerged, but not before the polarizing right-hander had everyone a bit perplexed. Farrell later revealed that a traffic issue led to a late arrival for the man known as “Ace.”
Then there was Mother Nature’s emphatic arrival. Daniel Nava had just walked to load the bases in the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 1, and Rays manager Joe Maddon was in the process of turning to his bullpen when it started raining cats and dogs. The downpours led to a delay of almost three hours, during which it was determined that fans with tickets to Game 1 could stay for Game 2 free of charge, while those with tickets to Game 2 could enter the ballpark early to catch the conclusion of Game 1.
Buchholz’s trip to the DL wasn’t the only roster move the Red Sox made between games. It was also announced that David Ross was placed on the seven-day concussion list for the second time this season. Both Ryan Lavarnway and Alex Wilson were called up, but given the late moves, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was forced to catch all 18 innings of the doubleheader.
Tuesday had no shortage of actual on-field excitement, either. David Ortiz drove in three runs to propel Boston to a victory in Game 1, and the Red Sox nearly let Game 2 slip away. Felix Doubront pitched eight shutout innings in the second game before closer Andrew Bailey surrendered a game-tying, ninth-inning home run that threatened to put a damper on Boston’s day. Fortunately for the Red Sox, their familiar resilience kicked in at exactly the right moment, and Gomes launched a first-pitch fastball over the Green Monster in the bottom of the ninth to send the Fenway Faithful home happy with two wins in their pockets.
Even Bailey, who almost cost the Red Sox a win, couldn’t help but smile as Gomes kicked his helmet into the air while celebrating his dramatic dinger. Gomes, who labeled his big boot “The Fenway Punt,” joked that he was impersonating former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri.
“I thought his punt was awesome. That put a smile on my face,” Bailey said. “Obviously, you don’t want to go out there and give up runs, but there’s a lot of positives about today — the way that Doubront threw the baseball, eight strong, and obviously Nava’s at-bat and Jonny’s homer. There’s a lot of good things about this team, and we just need to keep rolling.”
The Red Sox certainly have been rolling this season, and Tuesday’s effort spoke volumes about the team’s focus. Not only did the Sox complete a doubleheader sweep, which is something that’s becoming harder and harder for teams to accomplish these days, but the Sox did so despite all sorts of other things going on, including Bailey’s blown save.
“To be where we are and then to be where teams are late in the season at the top of the standings, we have to pick each other up,” Gomes said. “He’s picked us up. We’re going to pick him up, and we’ve done a great job of guys shining in the lineup covering for some guys that are kind of struggling and vice versa. It’s definitely the character of this clubhouse, picking each other up.”
Call it what you want, but there’s something unique going on with this year’s Red Sox. Nothing seems to faze them. We saw a late arrival by the Game 1 starter, a three-hour rain delay, an injury to the backup catcher, a DL trip for the team’s ace, a blown save and a “Fenway Punt.” Still, the Red Sox remained focused on the task at hand.
“You’re probably going to see a lot of stuff you haven’t seen before,” Gomes said after Tuesday’s doubleheader.
That certainly sounds like a safe bet. Yet through it all, the Red Sox keep on trucking.