Thank you, Daniel Nava

Thank you, Daniel Nava
October 13, 2013, 11:30 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

There’s a lot to discuss after last night’s game, and you should check out our Red Sox page for a deeper breakdown of what exactly happened and what both teams had to say re: Detroit’s whacky 1-0 win. But over here, on a far more serious note, all I have to say is this:

Thank you, Daniel Nava.

Thank you for that ninth-inning single. Thank you for breaking up that no-hitter and making the time between now and tonight’s first pitch just a little more bearable.

Thank you.

It may not have made the slightest difference in the final score, but that single did make a difference. A few of them.

For Sox fans, it’s the difference between simply turning the page on a frustrating playoff loss . . . and being reminded of it every time a pitcher sniffs a no-hitter for the foreseeable postseason future. Something like:

“Well, Kershaw takes the mound for the sixth, and he still hasn’t allowed a hit!”

“That’s right, Joe. And of course, we all remember the last time a team was no-hit in the playoffs . . .”

If not for that single — the product of another relentless Nava at-bat, in which he fouled off three, two-strike Joaquin Benoit pitches before plopping a fastball onto the center field grass — the world would be making a much bigger deal of the Tigers' 1-0 win. Tim Kurkjian, Jayson Stark and every other national writer who lives to gush over baseball’s quirky existence would have exploded all over their keyboards. Just in general, the headlines would be bigger (and dripping with horrible no-hitter word play). The columns would be longer and bolder. SportsCenter might have even extended their ALCS block into NFL coverage.* Either way, this would have been postseason history, and more than that, you better believe the no-hit narrative would’ve extended into Game 2.

* -- Followed by Roger Goodell kidnapping the producer’s family.

Tonight wouldn’t have been a clean slate for the Sox. It would’ve been: “When will Boston get its first hit of the ALCS?!?” Every at-bat would’ve carried that same burden, and it would’ve only grown heavier with every out. It’s like the Babe told Benny the Jet at the end of The Sandlot: “Heroes are remembered, but combined playoff no-hitters never die.”

But Nava killed it. He wiped the slate clean. Thanks to him, Game 1 is only one game. It died with Xander Bogaerts’ pop up. And in a sport as streaky and mental as baseball, that counts for something. Nava’s might have been the most meaningful meaningless single in Red Sox playoff history.

And now, it’s everyone else’s turn.

Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine