Now this is what the Red Sox needed to show coming out of that off day.
A massive offensive attack powered by the eight hits and three homers of Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia left no possible doubt that tonight was the night. Not just the night for snapping losing streaks, or gaining ground on the Rays (!), but for finally getting that one big monkey off their back: Tim Wakefield's 200th win.
It's appropriate that they chose tonight for all this, though, because of what happened five days ago. It was then, after all, that the Sox took an 8-5 lead off of Brandon Morrow, putting Tim Wakefield in line for the win, only to give it up in tragic fashion, as Daniel Bard imploded violently in the eighth. That was the first of five losses. It was the night the wild card lead started its fall from a commanding 8-game lead to a vulnerable 3 games.
And so they came out with that in mind, had the start of the game go similarly as the teams exchanged run after run, and then the Sox, as though realizing that they'd seen this movie before, stepped firmly on the gas pedal. They didn't let the bullpen get to them, but kept going strong, from a 4-run sixth, to the 7-run eighth that really made things just plain ridiculous. They came out with a chip on their shoulder, a mission to accomplish, and did everything necessary to make it happen.
This is not to say that the Red Sox are home free by any means, but this win was sorely needed not just for the final score, but based on the components contained therein. A 4-for-5 night for Dustin Pedroia with two homers seems rather likely to be the end of his slump. A strong performance from Alfredo Aceves after a couple of tough ones. Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro continued to go strong, and even Carl Crawford had a fine day, though he'll have to live without that homer he was robbed of.
The only qualm is the fact that the pitching staff is still what it is.
Oh, what's that? Josh Beckett is likely to pitch Friday? Bedard could be back on Monday? Jon Lester isn't defined by his last outing?
The Red Sox aren't home free. But sometimes one day can change a lot.