BOSTON, MA - June 21: Will Middlebrooks #64 of the Boston Red Sox shouts out while rounding the bases after his two-run home run against the Miami Marlins during the eighth inning of the game at Fenway Park on June 21, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
The Red Sox have a sweep in their pocket, a five-game winning streak, are back to being three over .500, and it's all thanks to the youth.
Well, if you count 29-year-old Daniel Nava as part of "the youth," but given his looks and career path, what do you say we just roll with it?
The game started a disaster. Daisuke was once again dead set on putting the Sox in an early hole, allowing three runs (and three stolen bases!) in a first inning that just wouldn't end, while the Red Sox wasted a big opportunity in the bottom of the first with the bases loaded and one out, with Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia not managing to bring in even one run between them.
Both men would make up for it later, however. With Daisuke keeping the Sox in the game by retiring some 14 straight batters, the offense took advantage of a wild Carlos Zambrano in the fourth, as both Ross and Saltalamacchia were plunked, and eventually came around to score on a Will Middlebrooks single and Mike Aviles sacrifice fly. Middlebrooks would come through again in the fifth, driving in Adrian Gonzalez from third to tie the game at 3-3.
As has so often happened before this year, however, as soon as the Sox offense fought back, the pitching gave the lead right back. A Giancarlo Stanton solo shot made it 4-3, Marlins and chased Daisuke Matsuzaka from the game, and Andrew Miller surrendered a fifth run to Miami before he was able to escape the top of the sixth. With the Sox offense falling victim to a pair of 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh, it seemed like the life had gone out of them.
Then came, as Jerry Remy put it, the "youthful enthusiasm." Turned around to the right side of the plate with Randy Choate on the mound, Jarrod Saltalamacchia once again showed his penchant for big hits with his off hand, blasting a double off the wall in left-center field. With Edward Mujica in for Choate, Will Middlebrooks came to the plate already with two RBI on the night. After falling behind 0-2, Middlebrooks worked the count even, and then got the pitch he was looking for: a high fastball. This time the hit was no single, but a veritable bomb to center field that brought the Sox even at 5-5.
The rally was not to die there, however. Ryan Kalish quickly continued it with a single through the right side of the infield, and then provided one of the more exciting plays of the night as he went from first to third on a ground ball out from Mike Aviles, giving the Sox a chance to score the winning run on a deep fly ball or well-placed grounder.
Daniel Nava decided to dispense with all the intricacies, however, and simply single to center. Kalish trotted home, and just like that, the Sox had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
It's nice to be doing that rather than the other way 'round.