A year ago, Mike Carp seemed to be the poster boy for the Red Sox ability to get the big hit in the right spot.
This season, thanks to some under-performance and injuries, it hasn't been the same. Carp missed more than a month with a stress fracture in his foot, and even when he's been healthy, he came into Thursday's game hitting just .208 with no homers and just six RBI.
As recently as Wednesday night, Carp had a chance to deliver a big hit, called upon to hit for Xander Bogaerts with two on and two out and the Red Sox trailing by a run in the eighth. Instead, Carp grounded out to end the inning.
Given another chance Thursday, Carp made good on his opportunity.
In a tie game in the 10th inning and Daniel Nava representing the potential winning run on second base, Carp stroked a single between third and short, scoring Nava and giving the Sox a 4-3 walkoff win over the Chicago White Sox.
"Anytime the ball's hit to left field at Fenway (you're never sure given the short throw for the outfielder),'' said Carp. "So I kept running until I saw Nava slide in safe. Then, happy times after that.''
It was the first walk-off hit of Carp's career and particularly gratifying, given how the first half of the season has gone for him and the team.
"It's just great to come through in a pinch-hit situation, a crucial situation,' said Carp. "It's a tough gig to be expected to get the hit there. It's nice to even it out.''
Carp fell behind 1-and-2 to Chicago reliever Ronald Belisario and was expecting he might see something away and off the plate.
"I figured he was going to attack me in (earlier in the at-bat),'' said Carp. "But after he went away on the 1-and-2 pitch, I assumed something was going to be out over the plate again. He did and I hit it through that 5-6 hole.''
Even thought he didn't produce Wednesday night, merely being back in that late-inning situation with the game on the line helped prepare him for a more successful outcome Thursday.
"Definitely,'' agreed Carp. "Like I said, it's a tough gig when people expect you to come up with the game-winning hit when you've been on the bench for 3 1/2 hours. But it's nice to even them out every now and again and come up with the big one.''