Friday, August 2, 2013

This could be THE year

©Kayla Chadwick 2013

The Red Sox have had two walk-off wins to begin the month of August - both of them coming on August 1st. The more dramatic and fun (if there's such a thing as a "lesser" walk-off win) was undoubtedly last night's affair, when the Sox scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

I had essentially written off the game as a loss before it started. The Red Sox had already taken the first two games from the Mariners, and when you see Felix Hernandez on the lineup card, sometimes you just shrug your shoulders and look forward to a fantastic pitching performance, even at the expense of your team.

King Felix didn't disappoint,  pitching seven solid innings and holding the Red Sox to a single run - but as he's undoubtedly come to expect, the Mariners bullpen coughed it up.

As frustrating as that must be for Hernandez, it was great fun for Red Sox fans, and for Red Sox players:

There is something special about this team. They could not be more different from the 2011 version, which was showered with praise from the get-go before proving to be mostly a collection of spoiled stars looking out for themselves. Last year's team was a simple disappointment - the expectations were never as lofty as 2011, and Bobby Valentine helped them to clear the bandwagon of fair weather fans in a hurry.

This team is different. No one picked them to do anything special - they were never supposed to win so many games, never supposed to be in the hunt for the playoffs so late in the season. But somehow, here we are. The Red Sox were buyers at the trade deadline, and remain in sole possession of first place. Manager John Farrell summed up the team's attitude after last night's improbable comeback win: 
“We don’t quit. Ever,” he said. “There’s no quit in this bunch. They truly believe there’s a chance to do something special, whether it’s on a given night or over the course of a given year. That one would be this year.” 
An outlook like that is even better than a 50-home run guy. It's better than a closer who throws 103 MPH. It's the kind of team-first philosophy that makes a city (and a region) embrace a franchise. This team is special. This year is special - this could be the year. And I for one am thrilled to be along for the ride. 

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