As awful as it was to watch last night's meltdown from Joel Hanrahan, there was a kind of poetic justice about the whole situation. It was the first officially un-soldout game in nearly a decade, and it somehow seemed to mirror the tendencies of the Red Sox over the last couple of years.
Things started off pretty evenly, as the Orioles scored, the Red Sox evened the score, and then the Red Sox pulled ahead by two runs - but the Orioles closed the gap heading into the rain delay. I know I came into the game with high hopes, after seeing the Sox dispose of the Orioles on Opening Day.
The first part of the game was like a microcosm of the 2011 season: the Sox got off to a 0-6 start, but managed to pull themselves out and back into contention by midseason, just as last night's squad fell behind but stayed within reach of a win by the rain delay. Post rain delay, Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit two home runs, resulting in jubilation among the Fenway faithful, much like the incredible summer we enjoyed in 2011.
And then Hanrahan came on to close things out. After Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and Andrew Bailey each pitched a scoreless inning, Hanrahan came in and couldn't close the deal - like the September 2011 meltdown of the entire Red Sox pitching staff (and, even more specifically, then-closer Jonathan Papelbon's personal meltdown against the Orioles on the last day of the season).
Andrew Miller managed to come in and get the last out, but then the Red Sox could not score in the bottom of the ninth - an exercise in futility that resembled 2012 in its entirety.
And so whether you buy my metaphor, last night was the beginning of a new era for the Red Sox. Hopefully the end of the "sellout streak" (which was fraudulent by the end, let's be honest) can be a clean slate for the Sox. Even after last night's loss, the Red Sox are still in first place in the AL East. Alfredo Aceves takes the mound tonight for the series finale, and while I wouldn't have chosen him as the tone-setter, he definitely has something to prove.