Clay Buchholz spun yet another gem on the mound for the Red Sox on Tuesday night, but yet again it was nearly all for naught. That was until Mike Aviles displayed maybe his most promising trait.
With two outs in a 1-1 game in the top of the ninth inning, Aviles was tasked with pulling out a win for the victory-starved Red Sox. And the hard-hitting shortstop came through with just the cure.
A softly slapped line drive over the mitt of Elvis Andrus gave Aviles the single, and even more importantly it scored Daniel Nava from second base to give Boston the lead and ultimately the win. The hit may go down as a simple single to shallow left field, and in the grand scheme of the Red Sox season it may not mean all that much. But given Boston's nagging inability to pull out close games, Tuesday's triumph could mean a great deal more than just another notch in the win column.
The Red Sox return to .500, a place the team has seemingly hovered around all season, and there's no clear indication that will change anytime soon. Mike Aviles may have provided the exact remedy to Boston's overwhelming issue, though: the killer instinct.
"That was a gut check game right from the beginning of the game," Valentine said of the 2-1 win. "And we showed we've got guts."
Ever since the end of the 2011 season, the Red Sox have been accused of being pampered superstars without the unwavering desire to win. And one game isn't going to change that notion. But what has been present in the Boston clubhouse lately appears to be a much different attitude. It tapered off after Cody Ross' walk-off home run on Thursday night, and Aviles seemed to revive the feeling once again down in Texas.
It was Buchholz' phenomenal performance that truly kept Boston with reach of the AL West-leading Rangers, as he tossed seven strong innings of one-run baseball, and he may well be asserting himself as the ace of this Red Sox staff. But while Buchholz is likely a more important piece to the bigger puzzle, it's Aviles who will ultimately be remembered for the heroics.
So as Boston inches ever closer to the trade deadline and further toward prime playoff time, the gutsy guise of a leader like Aviles will become even more crucial. The hope is that other Red Sox players will continue to follow suit and eventually set off a run that will have them firmly back in the hunt for the postseason.
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