It’s been a rough couple of weeks, folks. We’ve all heard it, we’ve all said it, we’ve all felt it. There’s been enough negative energy in this town lately to give Vigo from Ghostbusters II a sugar high. However, if you sat there tonight watching grown millionaires crowd around Darnell McDonald like they were ten years old again and your cynicism, pessimism and negativity didn’t melt away, you have no soul.
Tonight, it was the song of the backups — the team was lifted up and carried by players no one has on a fantasy team, and eventually it was those players who gave the Red Sox their most inspiring win of the young season (with, admittedly, stunningly little competition). McDonald, Jeremy Hermida and Josh Reddick drove in six of the team’s seven runs, and two of them weren’t even on the roster this morning.
McDonald will, rightly, be the story of the night: a career minor leaguer, a former first round pick who had played, by age 31, all of 68 major league games, McDonald first tied and then won this game with two very loud shots to left — the first sailing into the Monster Seats and the second scraping the Covidien sign to drive in Kevin Youkilis with the winning run. However, it’s important to give credit to the players who put the Sox in the position to win — Hermida, Reddick, Manny Delcarmen, and Jason Varitek. It was Hermida’s homer in the fourth, after a three run Texas half, that reminded us the game wasn’t over yet. It was Reddick’s sixth inning double that brought the Sox back within two. It was Delcarmen’s 1.7 innings of scoreless relief that kept us there, and it was Varitek’s scorching double down the left field line that gave McDonald his chance.
Of the players that drove in runs tonight, only Martinez — whose first inning RBI single got the scoring started for the Sox — could be considered a core member of this 2010 squad. But Hermida is quietly showing that he’s got something to prove, Reddick is intent on reminding us that he’s still in the top prospect conversation (non Casey Kelly division) and Varitek is reminding us that he’s not done yet.
This is the kind of game that it’s tempting to inflate. This can’t, almost by definition, be a tremendously important game in the long run; April contests never are. What it can be, though, is a wake-up call: this team can still do drama. This team can still come back from the dead. Over the last week, it’s seemed as though even a two run deficit was insurmountable, and our deficits have always been larger than that anyway. Tonight, though, it was the roster fillers who pulled this club back from a five run deficit, hopefully reminding some of those in the dugout how it feels to win in Fenway.
Maybe this will be a turning point, and maybe it won’t, but if you think there weren’t more than a few veterans on that bench tonight who felt a little chagrined, guess again. I hope they buy McDonald a real solid meal tonight, treat him like the big leaguer he is, and remember that in the middle of the worst stretch of baseball this town has seen since the dying days of 2006, this journeyman was the one who provided the heroics. If he can do it, so can they.