What a Walk Off

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What a Walk Off

The best part of any walk-off home run is the celebration.

Its bigger than the home run itself. Its bigger than the victory. The walk-off celebration is bigger than baseball!

OK, the same size as baseball. But either way, theres nothing cooler than watching a guy round third base the musics blasting, the crowds going bonkers, the losers are walking off the field staring down at their cleats as rowdy teammates wait at the plate. Ready to party like its 2099.

Its pretty rare to see this kind of group celebration in baseball. In the NHL, it happens after every goal. In the NFL, it happens after every touchdown (for some teams, after every play). In the NBA, you see it after big timeouts.

In baseball, you need a walk-off. Its the only time a team ever collectively lets loose.

And when they do, its awesome.

For instance, last night at Fenway.

Forget how big of a win it was for the Sox. Forget that theyve now won five of seven games since the All-Star Break, are only one back in the Wild Card and are getting healthier by the day. For me, the highlight of last night's walk-off was still the celebration.

Cody Ross tossing his helmet and diving into the pile. Shredder Punto ripping off Ross's shirt. Alfredo Aceves sneaking up from behind and dumping a bucket of Gatorade on everyone's head. (Quick note: The Gatorade shower is what stood out the most when I watched the celebration live. And afterwards, I immediately set out to figure out the dumper's identity. When I learned it was Aceves, I felt stupid for ever asking. Of course it was Aceves. That's textbook Aceves!)

Anyway, like I was saying. The celebration was amazing. More than anything, just the chance to see these guys care about something. And to see them do it together. That they were having fun! That maybe some things are more important than how many years are on your contract and whether the manager gives you a heads up before a day off.

Who knows what will happen next, but this series against the White Sox really feels like it could be a turning point for this team. And last night's celebration was the capper.

All in all, it was just a great night to be a Red Sox fan.

Coincidentally, it was an awful morning to be a human being.

It's hard to write, talk or even care about sports in light of what happened at that movie theater in Colorado. It's so beyond screwed up that I'm not sure why I'm even attempting to talk about it. What good will any of these words do?

But I felt like I had to say something. Even if it's just out of guilt for the fact here in Boston, 2,000 miles away from the tragedy, we have things like baseball and walk-off celebrations to temporarily take our minds off what happened. That as time goes on, we'll always remember the events of today, but we'll never truly understand the aftermath.

We'll go out tonight. We'll watch the Red Sox. We'll get wrapped in errors and at-bats. We'll move on with our lives. Meanwhile, people in Colorado will be dealing with this for years. Their lives are forever changed . . . or just plain over. What a mess.

Thoughts go out to everyone involved.

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

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Notes, quotes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Rays:

QUOTES:

* "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully, the tests come back clean.'' -Andrew Benintendi, on the uncertainty surrounding his knee injury.

* "Sometimes, I like that, sometimes I don't because I'd kind of take a couple of quick outs in place of those to get a couple of more innings out there.'' -Drew Pomeranz on his career high 11 strikeouts.

* "That's probably the spot that looms the largest. Jackie's become more aggressive early in the count, but at the same time, that aggressiveness can work against you.'' -Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging at the first pitch following a walk with the bases loaded.

NOTES:

* Drew Pomeranz recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts

 * Since moving to the leadoff spot, Dustin Pedroia has a slash line of .397/.418/.460 in 16 games.

* Pomeranz has yielded two runs or fewer in five consecutive starts.

* On the just-completed road trip, the Red Sox led in all but one game.

* Thursday's loss was the fourth this season in which the Sox allowed two runs or fewer.

 * The past 18 Red Sox losses have come by a combined 37 runs.

* Until Thursday, the Red Sox had won 20 of their past 31 day games.

* The bottom third of the makeshift Red Sox lineup combined to go 2-for-12.

* The Sox missed out on a chance to have an eight-win road trip, which would have been their first since 2011.

STARS:

1) Jake Odorizzi

The Rays started, facing a depleted Red Sox lineup, limited the Sox to a single run over seven innings, allowing just five hits and getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by allowing just one run.

2) Mikie Mahtook

Mahtook was 0-for-34 when facing Drew Pomeranz in the seventh inning, but that didn't stop him from doubling home Steven Souza Jr with what proved to be the winning run.

3) Dustin Pedroia

The Sox couldn't generate much of anything at all offensively, but don't blame Pedroia. The leadoff hitter had three hits and a walk and was on base four times for the Sox.