As far as team-defining wake-up calls go, it wasn’t exactly Jason Varitek shoving his mitt in Alex Rodriguez’s whiny mug.
But it was a start.
Look, if the Red Sox are intent on making something out of this so-far dreadful season, they’ll need moments like Sunday’s eighth-inning, seven-run outburst against the Oakland A’s to spark them along the way. It was an inspiring sequence, for sure, with Boston turning a probable 4-0 loss into a 7-4 win in the blink of an eye. The turnaround was reminiscent of the Sunday afternoon when the Sox scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles in the 2007 contest widely-known as the “Mother’s Day Miracle.’’
That win increased Boston’s eight-game lead over the Orioles in the American League East. The modern-day version did little but maintain the Red Sox’ 5 1/2-game deficit behind the suddenly-surging New York Yankees, winners of six in a row.
Still, there’s something to be said for Boston’s first sweep of the season, even if it is against the hapless A’s, who at 23-36 now own the worst record in the American League. It should be noted that the Red Sox are 5-1 against Oakland this season, the only above-.500 mark they possess vs. any team they’ve played more than three times.
So, 18 percent of their wins are against a team they won’t see for the rest of the year.
Against a bullpen that ranks last in baseball with its 4.97 ERA.
Sorry. It’s hard to react to what we watched yesterday and think that it’s going to be the inning that saves the season for the Red Sox, the moment that ultimately, long-term, saves jobs for manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington, as delusional as ever in their daily assessments of a team with enough fatal flaws to collapse under its own bloated self-worth.
Sunday was a shining moment for this team, mired in its own, plodding manner. But it also overshadows the fact that starter Clay Buchholz, who had been on a recent stretch of nifty outings, looked like hell again. Buchholz couldn’t get out of the fifth inning, having allowed 10 hits to the less-than-stellar Oakland lineup along the way.
Alas, the Red Sox are now 2-26 this season when trailing after seven innings. Let’s not jump the gun on praising how “defining’’ this moment was, OK?
“This is a momentum-builder for us, no doubt’’ Farrell said after the game. “The way in which we won… it was as big as the win itself.’’
These Red Sox were, of course, supposed to deliver moments like this all season long though, and it took until the first Sunday of June to witness any sign of life. There’s plenty of reason for the lingering doubt in their ability to pull it together.
One inning against a bad team’s bad bullpen just isn’t enough to convince the masses.
Let’s also not forget that it was only three years ago that then-manager Bobby Valentine jumped the gun on everybody when his team pulled to a .500 record (22-22) with a 6-5 win over the Orioles in early 2012.
“If we play like this the rest of the season, we’re going to win a championship,’’ the laughably-overzealous Valentine said.
Those Red Sox would go on to win only 47 more times.
This current edition is playing better, 5-2 in June, its first positive run differential (plus-five) for any month this season, and is seemingly figuring things out one aspect at a time. Boston has the Orioles and Blue Jays this week, a couple of fellow under-performers who serve as fodder for the Red Sox to get themselves back to respectability. As far as the A’s were concerned, so far, so good.
Let’s just not make Sunday out to be more than it was. Not yet.
Dustin Pedroia’s memorable moments