Ball Bounces Boston’s Way in Momentous Sunday

Ball Bounces Boston's Way in Momentous Sunday Baseball players engage in 162 contests a year. Some are big wins, others are crushing defeats. It’s nearly impossible to truly faze a big leaguer.

Life for a fan, however, is vastly different. Especially that of a Red Sox fan.

The Sox could pick up a win, but a matching victory from a playoff contender — Texas or Tampa, for 2009 purposes — dampens the excitement. Similarly, a Boston loss combined with a Texas or Tampa win — and the subsequent loss of a game in the standings — makes New England a dreary place to be.

In many ways, Sunday had the potential to be a dark day in Boston. For the home team, Paul Byrd was making his 2009 debut. In his last appearance for the Red Sox, he got lit up in his only appearance in the ALCS. Making matters worse, Roy Halladay was pitching for the Blue Jays. Confidence was not exactly the overwhelming feeling permeating the Nation.

Then the games got underway. The Rays came out swinging against Justin Verlander and held a 3-1 lead over the Tigers in the eighth inning. In Minnesota, the Rangers scored a pair of runs in the seventh to take a 3-2 lead.

Meanwhile, Byrd channeled his younger self (or perhaps some better pitcher), shutting down the Blue Jays in six innings of work as the Sox’ offense scored seven runs. The Sox had done their part, sweeping the Jays out of Fenway, but wins from the Rays and Rangers would still temper the sprits of Red Sox fans.

Then, Tampa blew it. Grant Balfour served up a three-run homer to Placido Polanco and the Tigers stole a win from Tampa. Later, Texas blew it. C.J. Wilson had a dreadful eighth inning, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk as Texas handed the Twins a victory.

At the end of the day, the Red Sox expanded their wild-card lead to 3 1/2 games over the Rangers and five games over the Rays.

Of course, if the Sox roll into Tampa on Tuesday and put up a trio of stinkers, the fortunate swing of Sunday will seem like a distant memory. Still, it’s not often fans have the opportunity to bask in the glory of an enjoyable Sunday, and with a day off on Monday, the timing was perfect.

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