Well, what should we start with?
- Alex Verdugo, the team’s early season MVP, was scratched shortly before the game with no explanation provided. Although he was in the dugout, he wasn’t called on to either pinch hit or pinch run in the late innings of the most important game of the season (most important for now, that is).
- Rafael Devers damn near hit the red seat (the actual seat, not the podcast) with a three-run bomb, but only after he misplayed a ball in the field that allowed the Blue Jays to plate their third run of the game.
- Nick Pivetta and Brennan Bernardino both turned back into pumpkins at the same time, well before midnight.
- Alex Cora pinch-hit for Triston Casas with Rob Refsnyder in just the sixth inning. This was at least somewhat defensible, since it was a big spot against a lefty and we all know what Refsnyder does to lefties. But it meant that, when Casas’s spot came up in the ninth inning, it was Reese McGuire at the plate trying to tie the game, not the guy who has a 1.104 OPS since the start of July.
- Reese McGuire then somehow blunted that criticism by getting a hit.
- And then Reese McGuire created a whole new avenue of criticism by engaging in whatever this was:
Not the first time Reese McGuire has made a bad decision. pic.twitter.com/rE3VR7b7dm— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) August 5, 2023
- Thus ended the most important game of the season (so far).
- After the game, neither Alex Cora nor Alex Verdugo would come forward with the reason for Verdugo’s benching, but an irate Cora would call today “one of the worst days” he’s had since taking charge of the Red Sox in 2018.
So that’s what happened. Now let’s get all narrativey and talk about what it all means.
There is little question that, considering the circumstances in their totality, this was the ugliest, most depressing loss of the season. It may go on to be viewed as the beginning of the end. It is already being viewed, simultaneously, as:
(a) A direct consequence of a lackadaisical trade deadline that left the team unmotivated and disengaged after Chaim Bloom and the front office failed to reinforce the team by buying;
(b) Proof that the front office was correct in not reinforcing a team that clearly is not good enough to do damage in the postseason; and
(c) Proof that the front office bungled the trade deadline by not selling off pieces of a team that clearly is not good enough to do damage in the postseason.
Obviously, but notably, these three things cannot all be true.
But here’s what is true: had Connor Wong leveled-up that pitch in the bottom of of the ninth just a little better — had that ball scraped some paint off the Monster on its way down, allowing McGuire to score, or had it snuck into the first row of the Monster seats, sending the ballpark into light show seizure mode — then we wouldn’t be talking about any of the above. Instead, we’d be talking about a season defining win. We’d be talking about the resilience of team that banded together amidst controversy and chaos. We’d be talking about the postseason.
That’s all part of the weirdness and magic of baseball. Like life, we spend so much time trying to figure out whether anything that happens in a baseball game has any meaning. Like life, we often don’t really know whether it does until long after the moment is passed. And like life, it happens every day.
And so the Red Sox will be back out there tomorrow. And if, tomorrow, the ninth inning liner to left does scrape some paint of the monster, then we’ll celebrate a season defining win, and toast to the resilience of a team that banded together amidst controversy and chaos, and talk about the postseason.
And then the Red Sox will play again on Monday.
- Rafael Devers: 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, and, yes, some shoddy-ass defense
- Josh Wincowski: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
- Adam Duvall: 2-4, 2B, R, 2 K
- Alex Verdugo: DNP, possible hangover or whatever
- Reese McGuire and/or Carlos Febles
- Brenan Bernardino: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K