Thursday, September 23, 2004: Twelve innings. Another ill-timed home run off Foulke in the ninth to tie the game. Another bases loaded, no runs lack of capitalization by the Red Sox. Another hero stepping on to the main stage to help us pull of an epic win – this time Cabrera with a blast over the Monster on the 400th pitch of the game, but also an unheralded group of relievers parading one after the other after the 9th to hold down the fort and give us a chance to win. This is the sort of litany of the improbable and the unexpected that characterizes the 2004 Red Sox.

Last night’s was another chaotic and vertiginous game at the Fens, but we emerged on top 7-6 after squandering another lead (though the whole game was a see-saw battle in which the last at-bat was perhaps the most important thing we had in our favor). Foulke is going through a spell like he did in June, but he righted himself then, and I suspect he’ll right himself now. Arroyo was not as sharp as he was on Friday night, but he kept us in it. Because of defensive changes and pinch hitting and seemingly profligate (but ultimately effective – Tito seems more confident in his handling of the relief corps, though I suppose by “seems more confident” I might simply mean “now it is working”) bullpen usage, just about everybody on the roster who could play seemed to get in last night. In some ways this will serve as an audition for the postseason roster. But it also shows the depth that we should bring to bear when October rolls around.
Perhaps best of all, the Yankees lost again, and so we are within 3.5 again. Last night’s game thus is something of a microcosm of the last two weeks, when we ended our big winning stretch and started to scuffle: no matter how much we seem to put ourselves out of any game, or the AL East race, we always do something to get ourselves right back in the mix. The fact that the Yankees cannot put us away is part of the problem for them. But to our credit, we also refuse to be put away. We scratch and we claw and we fight and even when others have given up, the guys in that clubhouse battle to the last out. I know I sound like a cliché-addled manager after a big win, but it is more than a little bit true. Like last year’s team, these guys have faith in one another, and they never think they are out of a game. That bodes well for the postseason.
The Yankees won today, so we need to do the same to keep pace. Indeed, they clinched a playoff spot, so once again, we will have to go through them in order to get that prize we have eyed from afar for so very long. But that is as it should be. Tonight Derek Lowe gets his chance to redeem himself after Saturday, when he pissed down his leg against the Yankees. The current rumor going around the web and other seedy spawning grounds for rumors (which I am not above repeating) is that on Friday night, Lowe and a number of the guys were so certain that Saturday’s game would be delayed or canceled due to rain that they went out on a Dionysian spree in New York. That is dumb on so many levels I can hardly contain myself. But it also provides a nice way to rationalize Saturday’s game (which, as faithful readers might recall, did not happen).

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