Nava say Nava

769186.jpg

Nava say Nava

If you're not watching this afternoon's Red Sox game, then congratulations, you have a job! But you also missed the latest chapter in one of the true feel good stories of this generally dreary season:

Daniel Nava.

The 29-year-old outfielder is obviously best known for what happened on the night June 12, 2010 when he was called up from Pawtucket and hit a grand slam on the first pitch of his major league career. He became only the second player in history to smack a salami on the first pitch he saw (Kevin Kouzmanoff is other) and quickly became the talk of the town.

The more we learned about Nava, the more we liked (for instance, the story about him and Erin Andrews), but sadly, he didn't stick. The Sox sent him back to minors in July, and while he did have a few more sips of coffee that season, he never made an impact, and NEVER hit another home run in 160 subsequent at-bats.

The following year (aka last May), Nava was designated for assignment, and passed through waivers without a sniff. As a result, he returned to Pawtucket, but you had to figure that was it for his Major League career. One pitch, one grand slam. And that's wrap.

That wasn't a wrap.

After playing through a full minor league season without a call from the big boys, and after just about every other outfielder in the organization was struck down with injury this season Nava got another chance.

On May 14, he started in left field for the Sox

. . . and hasn't left the line-up since.

Coming into today, Nava was hitting .324 on the year, with one home run (which came 171 at-bats after that first one) and 10 RBI. He's not making a case for an All-Star nod, but he's been all kinds of consistent, and played a legitimate role in the Sox recent stretch of victories.

He's taken this unlikely latest opportunity to play in the big leagues and run like the wind.

And that brings us back to this afternoon.

It's the top of the sixth, with the scored tied at two, and Daniel Nava drives a 2-0 pitch out of Camden Yards. A solo homer to give the Sox a 3-2.

It was the second homer of Nava's season, the third of his career, and for all we know it may very well be his last. But for now, the feel good story only gets better. If only Erin Andrews could see him now.

Oh right, she can.

Hi, Erin!

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

First impressions: Tampa Bay Rays 4, Boston Red Sox 0

red-sox-jackie-bradley-jr-062916.jpg

First impressions: Tampa Bay Rays 4, Boston Red Sox 0

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

What was Jackie Bradley thinking in the fifth inning? He wasn't, apparently.

Trailing 4-0, the Red Sox had runners on first and second with two out and Christian Vazquez at the plate.

Inexplicably, Bradley broke from second base in an attempt to steal third. Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore simply pivoted and threw the ball to third, where Bradley was tagged out for the final out of the inning.

Not only did it end the threat, it guaranteed the weak-hitting Vazquez would lead off the next inning.

It was the first time in his career that Bradley was thrown out trying to steal and one that he -- or the Red Sox -- won't soon forget.

David Price didn't like the strike zone.

On at least two occasions, Price made a detour from the mound to the dugout after innings to confer with home-plate umpire John Hirchbeck, presumably about the latter's strike zone.

It may be true that Price got squeezed on some pitches, but when you give up four runs to a light-hitting lineup that had lost 12 of its last 13, it's not a good look to be placing any of the blame on the umpiring.

The Red Sox aren't the worst team in baseball with the bases loaded; it just seems that way.

The Sox threatened in the sixth when Vazquez and Mookie Betts singled and, after a flyout by Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts singled, too.

But David Ortiz couldn't handle some fastballs in the strike zone, popping up in the infield, and Hanley Ramirez hit a ball off the end of the bat for an inning-ending flyout to right.

For the season, the Red Sox are 18-for-70 for a .257 batting average with the bases loaded, ranking them 17th -- or just below the middle of the pack -- in baseball.

Still, it seems that the Sox have been particularly inept in those situations of late, most memorably when they loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth against Chicago two weeks ago and improably came away with nothing.

Red Sox aggressively chasing big-name pitchers like Fernandez, Cole

Red Sox aggressively chasing big-name pitchers like Fernandez, Cole

Sean McAdam talks with Toucher & Rich about how aggressive Dave Dombrowski will be in trying to acquire pitching help. The fact they made calls on Jose Fernandez and Gerrit Cole says they will be very aggressive.