BOSTON — Daniel Nava killed a rally on Monday against the Rays. He ignited and capped a rally on Thursday against the Mariners.
Nava, whose baserunning blunders played a crucial role in Boston’s 2-1 loss on Monday, totally redeemed himself on Thursday. He worked a leadoff walk to begin the ninth inning, and he later capped a six-run rally by hammering a ball over Michael Saunders’ head in center field to give the Red Sox an incredible, 8-7 win over the Mariners.
“It’s a lot better,” Nava said of his bounce-back effort. “[That’s the] beauty about baseball. There’s good days and bad days. [In] football, you have to live a whole week before you can try to rectify the situation. In baseball, you get the next day or you get two or three days later. It’s a lot better. That’s for sure.”
Nava was at the center of Monday’s crushing loss to the Rays, which, at the time, knocked the Red Sox out of first place in the American League East. He pinch ran for Ryan Lavarnway in the eighth inning of that game, and he twice failed to score the game-tying run. Nava was incorrectly called out on a play at the plate after tagging up from third base, but before that, he misjudged a fly ball to right field and wasn’t able to score from second base despite the ball sailing over Wil Myers’ head.
Nava’s baserunning debacle against the Rays was costly. It was only one aspect of his recent struggles, though. Nava hasn’t homered since June 18, he had just three RBIs in July and he saw his on-base percentage drop to .369 — his lowest mark of the season — before Thursday’s series finale. All of that made Thursday’s ninth-inning heroics even sweeter for the outfielder, although he deflected praise after the dramatic win.
“I think it goes without saying that that at-bat was set up a lot by everything that happened before that,” Nava said of his game-winning hit. “Stephen [Drew] had a great at-bat, 0-2, works the count, gets the walk. It changes the whole situation of my at-bat. With one out, obviously everyone’s pulled in compared to two outs and everyone playing back. Who knows? That ball could’ve been caught. A lot of things were dependent on other guys in that situation.”
The Red Sox’ comeback was certainly a team effort, but Nava’s clutch at-bats were encouraging. A big hit like the one he provided to finish off the ninth-inning rally could get him back on track after a brief rough patch that has led to a dip in playing time.
“Well, good for him, because he’s been going through a little bit of a stretch where he’s not been maybe as sharp or productive,” manager John Farrell said. “But there’s been better at-bats of late. We’ve given him a little bit of breather, particularly with the ability to go to Mike Carp, but in the case tonight with [Yoervis] Medina, that sinker that ends up going to the part of the plate where it fits in with his swing. We were confident in that situation, we felt like it was a really good matchup in our favor and fortunately it turned out.”
Nava has had a tremendous season for the Red Sox. A few hiccups clearly aren’t going to unravel his hard work.