McAdam: You just can't count these Red Sox out

McAdam: You just can't count these Red Sox out
August 2, 2013, 1:30 pm
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A handful of walk-offs in a season? That would be fun -- late-inning comebacks producing celebrations on the field.
Seven or eight of them? That would be unique -- not many teams put themselves in position to stage rallies and win that many times in such dramatic fashion.
But 11 walkoffs? In the first 57 home games? That, to steal a phrase from Arlo Guthrie in "Alice's Restaurant" might be seen as "some kind of movement."
Indeed, there's something special about a team which can win that many times in its last at-bat.
Not since 1978 -- a season most Red Sox fans don't otherwise wish to be reminded of -- have the Red Sox had this many walkoff wins. And the team, with 24 home games remaining, stands an excellent chance of tying or eclipsing the franchise record of 13, set in 1940.
But the walkoff victories are merely a symptom of something bigger, symbolic of who the Red Sox are.
The wins get generated with bone-jarring catches, like the one Jonny Gomes made, slamming into the scoreboard wall in left. They get helped when the home plate umpire misses what certainly appeared to be a third strike against Gomes in the bottom of the ninth.
And they're punctuated by the kind of aggressive at-bat shown by Daniel Nava, who lined the first pitch he saw in the ninth well over the head of Seattle center fielder Michael Saunders, delivering the winning run.
But the walkoff exists first as a state of mind.
"You play 27 outs," summarized Shane Victorino, who knocked in three runs, including two in the six-run ninth. "I'm sure a lot of people, going into that seventh inning (when the Red Sox trailed Felix Hernandez 7-1), were saying, 'Alright, they're done.' But lo-and-behold, we did it."
Much of that was execution on the field, taking the right approach at the plate, and, yes, getting some luck, as when Seattle interim manager Robby Thompson inadvertently called for lefty Ollie Perez when he meant to signal for righthander Yoervis Medina.
But a lot of it is attitude, too, the kind fostered when the walkoffs keep piling up and no opponents' lead seems insurmountable.
"We know we can do it," said Victorino. "It's not like we get to the point where we say, 'Well, we haven't done it before.' We've done it 11 times. That's the kind of stuff where it's contagious. OK, we've been there, we can do it and what are we going to do to do it and what are we going to do to keep it going."
And then Victorino, son of Hawaii, made this observation: "When a wave's going in the right direction, you want to ride it as long as you can."
Conversely, this Red Sox group doesn't wallow in losses. Prior to their three-game sweep of the Mariners, in which the degree of difficulty for each win got progressively harder, the Sox had lost a tough 2-1 decision to Tampa Bay Monday night.
That game featured a baserunning blunder by Daniel Nava, followed by a butcher's call by home plate umpire Jerry Meals that negated what would have been the tying run in the eighth inning.
But the Red Sox didn't allow the disappointment of that loss to impact any of the games that followed. It was over and done with, so the Red Sox moved on.
"That's what the team has been built on -- it's one game at a time," said Victorino. "Beyond that, it's one inning, one pitch. That's the kind of thing where you sit back and look back on and say, 'What does this team do that's so magical?' And the fact is, we take it one game at a time.
"You have to. You can't look back, you can't look ahead. You love in the moment right now. Arizona's coming in and that's a whole other night."
That's Victorino's view, as someone in the middle of what could be a magical run. Then there's the observation of a part-time participant, who is every bit as impressed.
"Everybody gets along . . . nobody quits," said Steven Wright, who tossed three shutout innings in relief to get the win. "It's somebody different every day. It's fun to watch when I'm down in Pawtucket; it's even better when I'm here."
Victorino, meanwhile, has had enough with the drama. A blowout here or there would be just fine with him.
"I don't want to keep playing these kind of games," he said. "It gets exhausting. You go from basically being shutout and not doing very well. But that's the thing about this team -- even though that was happening, the energy level never lagged."