Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 80: Best Walk-off Celebration Yet: The Helmet Punt

It was a long day but the Red Sox managed to sweep a doubleheader with the Rays yesterday. The first game was interrupted by a nearly three hour rain delay that just about cleared out the stadium—only a handful of loyal fans (who obviously had no where to be) stuck around.

A strong outing by Alfredo Aceves coupled with three RBI from David Oritz and Jacoby Ellsbury's three hit game made for a pretty easy 5-1 win in the first game—even if it did take over six hours to get 'er done. And Aceves, who lately has been yo-yo-ing between Boston and Pawtucket, put together a great outing giving up just one earned run on three hits in five innings. Me thinks the multiple demotions to Triple-A Pawtucket make Fettucini work harder... don't you?

Masterful pitching from Felix Doubront highlighted the night portion of the double header. Doubront pitched eight shut out innings in the longest outing of his career, scattering just three hits while striking out six. The lone scoring came on Daniel Nava's 10th home run of the season in the second inning... until the top of the ninth.

Andrew Bailey, who has had his issues this season, gave up the third home run in his last four outings to blow Doubront's chance for a win. How Felix doesn't punch Bailey right in the throat for that one, I'll never know. So the Sox were going to need some magic in the bottom of the ninth. They've been heavy on the magic this year... could they continue?

The inning started off with a five-pitch walk to Daniel Nava bringing up a struggling former Tampa Bay Ray, Jonny Gomes. The guy who was brought in primarily for his clubhouse presence (and his awesome beard which I'm pretty sure houses a family of field mice) is batting a lowly .209 in 53 games. But Gomes took the first pitch he saw deep to left field for the walk-off win.

Not only do I love a good walk-off, but I'm especially fond of the celebration that ensues at home plate when the walk-off-er arrives. In the past, it was referred to the Shredder—named for the state ones jersey was left in after the celebration. Almost all the players who have been a victim of this "praise" agree it's best if the helmet is removed. Gomes took care of his helmet as he came around third base with what is possibly the best walk-off celebration I've seen—an enthusiastic helmet punt that was probably as close as you can get to flipping your former team the bird without actually using your middle finger.

In case you missed it...

The Sox lost tonight but they still took two of three from the Rays. And they still sit atop the AL East with the second best record in baseball. Not bad for a bunch of ragtag ball players, right?

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