Boston Red Sox

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 move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.