BOSTON – Daniel Nava seems to find himself in these situations. His eighth-inning, three-run, two-out home run put the Red Sox ahead with the eventual game-winning runs as the Sox beat the Royals, 4-3, at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon.
It was his fourth home run of the season, tied for the team lead, and his second three-run home run of the season.
Three of Nava’s four home runs this season have come with the score tied or the Sox trailing.
“I stepped in the box just trying to put the base-running mistake behind me and move on,” he said. “Understanding the importance of today’s game I was pretty frustrated with myself because that was a chance to, who knows, get things going. So for that to happen, I wasn’t trying to do it. Just, shoot, thank God it worked out the way it did because I didn’t plan that.”
Yes, that base-running mistake. With no outs in the seventh, Nava was on second, representing the potential tying run, after being hit by a pitch, followed by a Will Middlebrooks single. Nava had a modest lead off second, but after the first pitch to Stephen Drew, Royals catcher Salvador Perez delivered a laser to shortstop Alcides Escobar, catching Nava off the base.
“Obviously it’s uncalled for,” Nava said. “You can’t let that happen. I knew they were going to keep me close. And knowing that, I was thinking I got to get a pretty good jump because they're going to keep me close. It shouldn’t have happened. That’s the short of it. I went back to the dugout knowing that, knowing the situation in the game, that’s uncalled for. So thank God things ended the way they did because I was not a happy camper up until that point.”
His three-run home run changed that.
“He made up for it in a big way,” said manager John Farrell. “A failed bunt attempt and it’s a pretty routine play where the catcher going to throw back behind the runner. Perez is one heck of a catcher with a great arm and he’s active with his throws. (Nava) atoned for it with a three-run homer and made up for it in a big way.”
On a day that started with an emotional tribute to the victims of this week’s terrorist attacks, the first responders and citizen heroes who treated them, and the law enforcement officers who captured the suspects, Nava was happy to deliver a dramatic win.
“I wasn’t running the bases thinking about everything [that happened before],” he said. “I was thinking about the significance of us coming back late in the game, how much adrenaline you got. After that I started to think about hey, wait a minute, everything that this day means. A home run or winning a game is obviously nice but the people that lost their lives and stuff like that, a home run doesn’t bring the people that they lost back. So I think maybe getting a win at least maybe takes their mind off of it just for a split second or two. And if we can do that, that’s something we try to do.”
Nava, who went 1-for-2 with a walk to raise his average to .342, has been part of the Red Sox since signing as a free agent in 2008. In his time with the organization, the California native has come to understand what makes the city tick.
“’Boston Strong’ is something that, it’s not just a slogan,” he said. “It’s not something that people make up. It’s something that actually means a lot to us in that locker room, to the people that were in the field, and to the community as a whole. It’s something that actually has significance to us. So I think that you were able to see and feel that today. It was something that really meant a lot for us to come together and play a game despite everything that happened recently.”
He was touched by the pregame ceremony.
“I think we all were,” he said. “I think that’s what it’s about. Those were the guys who allowed us to play today. They did a great job in finding the suspects, as we well know. If it wasn’t for them, who knows, we wouldn’t even be able to play the game. So I think to honor them and give them some well due spotlight is something that got to all of us. It got to me. I know, that's for sure. I’m glad I had glasses on.”