What does it take for a player to get a game named after him? He has to play well, of course, but that’s hardly sufficient. The team has to win, too; that goes without saying. And the game has to be memorable, both overall and with respect to the player’s individual performance.
But there’s something else even more important beyond the three factors of performance, victory, and memory: The win has to be meaningful. The win has to mark a turning point, or define a season, or reflect a team in microcosm. This is the hard one, the one that only the universe can control.
So . . . did we just watch the Adam Duvall Game? So many of the elements are there. To start with, Duvall had about as good a game as a hitter could ask for: two homers, a triple, and a double (slightly less cool than a cycle, I suppose, but way better overall.) The Sox won, of course. And, hot damn, I’m going to remember that dropped ball in left for a long, long time. How often in your life have you said “drop it!” on a routine fly ball in a key moment, only to see it land harmlessly in the opponent’s glove? Hundreds? Thousands? They never drop it. Never! These are big league outfielders!
And yet! Two outs in the bottom of the ninth:
WATCH: The Orioles drop a routine fly ball that would’ve ended the game and it leads to an Adam Duvall walk-off home run pic.twitter.com/tG5z4A0nJv— 573 Baseball (@573Baseball) April 1, 2023
Adam Duvall to universe: “Thanks, I’ll take it from here.”
Now the question is: What meaning will this game carry five months from now? Will it be seen as having foreshadowed something special? Will it symbolize a feisty, resilient lineup of professional hitters? Or, like last year’s walk-off against the Yankees, will it largely be forgotten in the face of greater failures?
We have 160 more games to find out.
A few other thoughts bouncing around in my head:
- So, not Chris Sale’s best outing . . . by a long shot. But there’s absolutely nothing to worry about yet. The velocity and movement were there. . . it just so happens that three years worth of rust was there, too. We won’t have a clear idea of where Chris Sale is as a pitcher for at least another month.
- So, not the best job controlling the run game . . . again. I don’t really see this as a long term problem yet either. Rather, it seems clear that the Sox kind of slept on the impact the pitch clock would have on stolen bases during Spring Training, while the Baltimore Orioles very much did not. They have time to fix this, and if things don’t turn around soon, the guy down in Worcester happens to have one of the very best catching arms in the game.
- Is this the year Verdugo finally makes the leap? I remain skeptical, but he’s off to a outstanding start with a triple yesterday and bomb over the bullpen today (even if yesterday’s triple arguably should’ve been caught. If Verdugo does reach another level this year, though, then that changes the outlook of this team, big time.
Here’s one of the crazier WPA charts we’ll see all year:
- Adam Duvall: 1.255 WPA, 3-4, 2 HR, 3B, 5 RBI
- Kiké Hernandez: 0.139 WPA, 1-2, HR, BB, 1 RBI
- Josh Winckowski: 0.055 WPA, 2 IP, 2 K, 1 H, 0 BB
- Chris Sale: -.414, 3 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 HR, 2 BB, 6 K
- Triston Casas: -0.137, 0-3, 2 K, 1 BB
- Masataka Yoshida: -0.129 WPA, 0-5, 1 K, 1 R
WPA Play Of The Game:
You already know the answer to this.
Who was the Red Sox Player Of The Game?
This poll is closed
What are you, stupid? It’s Adam Duvall
The headline of the article is literally "The Adam Duvall Game"