I don’t normally do this, but it’s time for a little story time with Davo.
I was driving back from Connecticut, listening to Dave O’Brien call the game on the radio. Andrew Bailey had just given up the game-tying home run to Kelly Johnson.
After Daniel Nava walks, my gut starts to get a strange feeling as O’Brien announces Jonny Gomes‘s name. Do you ever have those? Like a magnet is opposing another magnet, uncomfortable but yet excited at the same time. It was a feeling that Gomes was going to hit one out of the park.
Then the call came. O’Brien’s voice gets faster, and my hands grip the steering wheel tighter. My brain visualizes a baseball crushed by Gomes, teetering on the virtual foul line that was cutting through the cool Boston night.
My mouth belted out “JJJJJJJJONNY GOMES!” as my hands bashed the steering wheel, exploding with excitement.
Baseball walk-offs are the best to listen to, especially since it was retribution for the Bailey blunder the frame before.
Here are the four bases:
First Base: In the series preview I mentioned how Alfredo Aceves and Félix Doubront needed to keep the magic going. That was exactly what happened. Aceves, whose outing was cut short after 75 pitches and five innings due to the rain delay, gave up only one run in his third consecutive start. His body language exposed his confidence in his abilites, something that was absent from his appearance on the mound in starts before. Doubront was the same way, mowing down Ray after Ray as they came to the plate. His 93 pitches was the least he threw in a start since his first of the season, and those 93 guided him through eight innings. The back end of the rotation is as important as ever now with Clay Buchholz injured and Jon Lester struggling.
Second Base: If you were John Farrell, what would have done for the ninth inning? Farrell’s mind looked made up faster than a genius on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” on who would take the mound in the ninth inning. Bailey was warming up when Jacoby Ellsbury lead off the inning. Farrell’s decision looks horrible now, especially since Doubront had retired the last 17 batter he faced. By the same token, New York Met’s Manager Terry Collins decided to roll with Dillon Gee in the ninth inning last night in Atlanta, and Freddie Freeman of the Braves crushed a two-run homer to give Gee the complete-game loss. Regardless of which decision you would have made, hindsight is always 20-20.
Third Base: Gomes mentioned this in his post-game interview on WEEI as well: did anyone else notice that Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught both games of the double header? He was 0-6 with a walk in both games, so it is not like it did the Red Sox any good offensively, but defensively that is noteworthy and maybe I can go as far as an accomplishment. Managers usually don’t force their catchers to squat for two games within 24-hours of each other, whether a doubleheader or a day game after a night game. However, with David Ross experiencing concussion-like symptoms, Saltalamacchia had to protect the plate for 18 straight innings (pretty much, accounting for the delay). One has to wonder what it will be like rolling out of bed tomorrow for him…
Home Plate: Nava is being novel Nava again. He not only hit the home run that was the only run in the second game for 6 2/3 inning, but the patience he showed against Joel Peralta was palpable. He leads all major league outfielders in on-base percentage with a .387 mark, and that’s thanks to 34 walks, which ranks fourth among outfielders. Flashes of Scott Hatteberg came to mind when he approached the plate in the ninth, and that further cements Nava as a favorable moneyball option.
Beyond the Diamond… With Buchholz now officially on the disabled list, many sports writers have suggested that the Red Sox will call up Rubby De La Rosa or Alan Webster to start Saturday’s game against the Detroit Tigers. Well, slow down here; the Red Sox already have an untapped asset at their disposal, and that is Franklin Morales. He was slated to pitch last week in Buchholz’s spot, and now that Buchholz is officially on the disabled list, why not keep Aceves in the majors and use Morales to realign the rotation? With the sequential call-up of Alex Wilson, that will not happen. Regardless, having Aceves and Morales provides two swing men ready to make spot starts is more of an appealing option to me rather than having an unproven prospect try to get his feet wet against Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
(Photos Courtesy of Michael Dwyer/Associated Press and Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)