If it's going to happen, if the Red Sox are going to defy massive odds and make the playoffs, then they need one of those moments. They need the kind of instance that can propel a beleaguered bunch back into the mix.
That moment may have come a little before 10 p.m. on Wednesday night in Baltimore, where the sinking Sox broke out of their offensive doldrums in a big way en route to a desperately needed 9-6 win over the Orioles.
Marco Scutaro's two-run homer and Adrian Beltre's three-run bomb highlighted a six-run seventh that turned what looked like a fourth straight defeat into a potential momentum-builder on the first day of September. While turning the page of the calendar helps to create a clean slate, so too does leaving behind the misery of the past.
"[Tuesday] night was a tough game for us," Scutaro said of the 5-2 setback in Baltimore. "We played pretty bad as a team, offensively, defensively and it's nice to come back today and score some runs and win the game."
Indeed, offense is what has been in severe shortage lately. Each two- and three-run effort, of which there had been five in a row, seemed to sap the energy from a club with dwindling playoff hopes. But in the seventh inning against the O's, the dugout finally came to life.
Darnell McDonald led it off with a pinch-hit single to center. After Bill Hall struck out, Scutaro lined a two-run shot down the line in left. It was fair by a few feet, just enough to tie the game 5-5.
Following a walk to J.D. Drew, Victor Martinez ripped an RBI double to make it 6-5, and Baltimore then opted to intentionally walk David Ortiz and allow Alfredo Simon to face Boston's best hitter in Beltre.
Simon threw an 0-1 fastball that Beltre hit as high as he did far, perhaps offering a playoff prayer to the baseball gods above, landing it in the first row in left. It capped the Red Sox' biggest inning since Aug. 13 in Texas.
"We chipped away early, which is good," manager Terry Francona said. "Then Scutaro with the big hit after Mac got on. Then we kept at it, which was really good, and then Beltre hits the three-run homer that spreads it out a little bit."
Despite the win, the math alone suggests just how difficult a comeback would be for Boston — if Tampa Bay somehow goes 14-15 over its remaining 29 games, the Sox would have to go 21-8 just to tie for the wild card. But who would've thought that Jon Lester would improve to 13-0 against the Orioles after the way he started things off Wednesday night?
Lester had a wild pitch and a hit batter in a four-run first inning and was up to 57 pitches after giving up a fifth run in the second. Pawtucket call-up Robert Manuel was up and warming in both innings and the thoughts of another Lester cakewalk against the O's were rendered moot. About two hours later, so too were thoughts of another frustrating evening in Baltimore, all due to a rally that may someday be looked upon as one of those moments for the Red Sox.
That is, if they defy the odds.
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