Today had all the makings of a good Red Sox win--one that could make it worthwhile to drop a game in the draft standings in exchange for the performances involved. Cody Ross hit a go-ahead double late, driving in Dustin Pedroia from second after a double of his own--each went 2-for-4 on the day--and Felix Doubront was exceptional.
The problem is that it came against the Orioles, and while that does enable a fun hat trick doled out to Robert Andino, it also means that, with Oakland finally getting it together and taking a game over the New York Yankees, the Red Sox played heroes to the team their fanbase would love to watch crash and burn more than anything.
We've discussed the value of a win at this point--or perhaps the damage of one--plenty of times, but this is the first time we're left with a win that actually provides our worst enemies with relief and only hurts a team that only a few really hold grudges against for Game 162 last year.
If the Athletics had gone nuts in New York and taken all three, and this was just a matter of one or two games ahead for Baltimore, then it wouldn't be such a big deal. But with the Yankees facing one of the toughest matchups remaining to them and Baltimore facing one of the easiest, the Yankees gave no ground, and this game is a part of that. This to us meaningless win held first place for the New York Yankees.
There are positives to be had from Doubront's start. Perhaps he has gained confidence from the two decent-but-lucky performances that preceded it, and that allowed him to come in and dominate tonight. 11 strikeouts in seven innings strikes me as something more than just confidence, but this is similar to how Clay Buchholz got his act together midseason, and it would be nice to see Doubront at least end positively.
But, frankly, when Ryan Flaherty struck out, and the Orioles had wasted their bases loaded, one out opportunity against Andrew Bailey, it felt a little bit like a midseason loss would if we were on the other side of things, wasting a late-game chance. And should it come down to the Yankees barely beating out Baltimore for the AL East crown, it's this game I'll be looking back at with a grimace.
What strange times when a good win can produce such aggravation.