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August 2, 2013
Miracle Sox Walk-Off Again, Is This “The Moment?”
By Alex Smolokoff

Are the Red Sox going to win the World Series this year? Maybe. Probably not, if we’re being totally honest. Hell, the Sox might not even reach the playoffs. But, if the Red Sox are crowned champions sometime this October, one needs look no further than these last two days to figure out when they made the leap, flipped the switch, hit a new gear, insert-another-cliche-here. On Wednesday night - Thursday morning, if we’re being technical - the Red Sox won a 15-inning marathon against the Seattle Mariners. A Dustin Pedroia home run gave them the lead in the 8th, before that lead was given back in the bottom of the inning. For the next seven innings and more than two hours, neither team broke through. Finally, in the bottom of the 15th inning, Stephen Drew hit a bases-loaded single to give the Sox a 5-4 win.

Less than 24 hours later, the Sox rallied with a 6-run ninth inning to beat those same Mariners, 8-7, in a game Boston had no right to win. The rally was swift, but actually began the inning before, with a Shane Victorino home run to cut the lead to 7-2. In the top of the ninth, Jonny Gomes - an 8th-inning replacement - threw a runner out at third and ended the inning with an acrobatic catch that sent him hard into the left-field wall. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, the magic happened.

Boston’s 6-run rally happened fast. Daniel Nava led off the inning with a walk. Then Ryan Lavarnway singled. Brock Holt hit a double to left, scoring Nava. Then Jacoby Ellsbury walked, Shane Victorino hit a 2-run single, Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI-single, and in the blink of an eye the Sox were down only one run and still nobody out. Then, David Ortiz, with a chance to win the game, struck out - suddenly the comeback seemed a bit less certain. Up came Jonny Gomes, and he didn’t disappoint. After looking at what appeared to be strike three (it should have been strike three, can’t deny that), Gomes hit a line-drive single up the middle to tie the game. Drew, the hero a night before, drew a walk, bringing Nava up once again. His single to deep center scored the winning run, and with that, Nava bookended the rally and the Sox were winners. Stunning doesn’t even begin to cover it.

There you have it; two walk-off wins (bringing Boston’s league-leading total to 11) in less than 24 hours. More importantly, “the moment.” The Red Sox now have 11 walk-off wins, meaning one in every six wins this season has come in such fashion. For all the complaints and the anger surrounding Boston’s lack of hustle, heart, and character these past few seasons - all warranted, by the way - this year’s Sox have it all. Boston hasn’t had this much chemistry since at least its 2007 World-Series-championship winning season. The team doesn’t quit; how else can you explain 11 walk-off wins in 110 games? You can just see in the way the team mobs each night’s hero that they’re pulling for each other, invested in each other, and, most importantly, playing for each other. For the first time in years, it is evident that these players want to win for each other even more than they want to win for themselves. It sounds simply - obvious, even - but it makes a world of difference. This year’s Red Sox finally care, and they care deeply.

I’m not saying the Red Sox will win this year’s World Series. I’m certainly not saying they’re the best team in the league, or the only team that cares, or the only team that plays hard. What I am saying is this; the 2013 Red Sox are fun to watch again, because they’re having fun playing for each other. I won’t be surprised if the Red Sox don’t win the World Series; in fact, I’ll be far more surprised if they do. But if they do, look back to these last two games. Look back to Jonny Gomes’ diving all over the field. Look back to a 15-inning win followed by a 6-run ninth-inning rally. When you pop in that championship DVD, look for the music to change, and the voiceover to get serious. The journey all started in the wee hours of August first...

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