BOSTON, MA - MAY 29: Adrian Gonzalez #28 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after making the putout on a ground ball hit by Prince Fielder #28 of the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning to end the game at Fenway Park May 29, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red sox won 6-3. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
On their seventh try, the Red Sox finally broke through, reaching a winning record for the first time all year at 25-24.
As a mental milestone, this is a significant win for the fanbase, and possibly the roster as well. After so many tries, this was beginning to seem like an insurmountable hump--a wall the team could come up to but never breach, instead simply running headfirst into it over and over again. Now they have gotten through to the other side. They know it's possible. Even if, heaven forbid, they should quickly fall back beneath that mark, it will perhaps no longer seem quite so far away.
But even taking away all those intangible aspects, this is a big win just due to the men on the mound. Daniel Bard vs. Justin Verlander is not the sort of game the Sox take home. Aside from some flashes of brilliance at the very begining, Bard has struggled throughout the year, failing to spot his fastball and having to rely overly much on his slider. Tonight wasn't too terribly different, as Bard struggled at times with control and had to get some help from his defense to save baserunners and runs, but he did survive, with the Tigers only scoring on a pair of solo shots.
Justin Verlander had no such luck. It's surprising enough for the Sox to put up a run on him over the course of an entire game. With five coming across in just six innings, it's safe to say the lineup was exemplary against one of the toughest opponents in the game. David Ortiz doubled off the wall and then scored the first run in the second as Mike Aviles beat out a double play. He would feature again in the fifth run, doubling home Adrian Gonzalez, as well as the sixth, homering into the Monster seats after Verlander had left the game, but it was what happened in between that really built Boston's lead. With the bases loaded and two outs after a trio of singles, the Sox had Daniel Nava come to the plate, work the count full, and then take a 100 MPH fastball and knock it solidly into left field for a bases-clearing double, putting Boston up 4-0 at the time.
For most of us, today was not a game to get hyped up about. After experiencing bitter disappointment so often this season, getting our hopes up on Daniel Bard vs. Justin Verlander was just asking for more pain. Somehow, though our reliever-turned -starter managed to hold on while our makeshift lineup--featuring a back-end of Podsednik (who reached base three times) and Punto (who is still bad) got to arguably the best pitcher in the game, giving him his worst outing of the year,
After so much frustration, however, it hardly even matters how they got here. What's really important it that they're here at all, with a winning record to their name. That alone is worth some celebration.