Come with me, for a moment, to an alternate universe. In this universe, the first game of the Astros series is not the Paxton-Javier tilt that is marred by so many errors and shaky pitching, but the Tanner Houck-Justin Verlander matchup. This game is, of course, also marred by errors (we’re talking about the 2023 Red Sox here) but it is also tinged with some hope. The Red Sox lose against a generationally great pitcher on a heater, but Tanner Houck shows grit and gumption. All is not lost, though things look bleak.
The second game in this universe is the Adam “Kirk Gibson” Duvall Game. Chris Sale is back on the mound with strikeout stuff. The bullpen locks down the defending champs. And Duvall fights through pain to deliver a gutsy, late innings win that shows the resolve and spirit of the fighting Red Sox. Nothing’s over until we say it is!
The third game is Paxton-Javier matchup, because that has to go somewhere.
And then we arrive at today’s matchup. But we do so not having already lamented the end of the season, but having been whipped back-and-forth by the intensity of two teams battling for their postseason existence. Imagine that we came into today’s game in that state of mind, and then this happened.
The Boston Red Sox kicked the Houston Astros’ championship asses today. Wilyer Abreu had the best day of his life. Alex Verdugo redeemed himself from his costly ejection on Tuesday. Brayan Bello told us all not to worry about his innings count or fatigue. And the Boston Red Sox are essentially in the same position they found themselves in at the start of the series.
What a nice little universe. Maybe we should hang out here for a while.
Wilyer Abreu: 4-5, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Wilyer Abreu is my favorite player on the team right now and it’s not even close. I can’t explain it. It’s just one of those things. (Note: I can explain it, and will do so in 1,500 words soon.)
Alex Verdugo: 4-7, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Behold the power of being managed by someone who sincerely hates you.
Brayan Bello: 7 IP, 9 H, 4 K, 3 BB, 1 ER
Embarrassing confession time: when Bello came back out for the seventh, I briefly wondered whether he’d completed seven innings before. Reader, not only had he done so before, he’d done it five times this season already, including three starts in a row at one point. Brayan Bello: horse.
No one! A zero dud day! Ring the bells of the Park Street Church, fire the cannons at Lexington and Concord!
Play of the Game
You hit your first career homer in a blow out against the defending champs in the middle of a postseason battle, you get honored with the play of the game. That’s just how things work.