The Red Sox won the World Series in 2013. That was awesome. As fans, we were graced with the good fortune of a third title in a decade, and some simply magical heroics to get there. The regular season, however, also had some of the most epic moments I can remember as a Red Sox fan. Below, in no particular order, are some of the best moments of the regular season, with accompanying Baseball-Reference links. Hopefully 2014 will provide as many excellent moments, and be just as fun for us, the fans.
With the summer beginning in earnest in early June, the Red Sox were a cool 13 games over .500 and already off to a season that would greatly exceed expectations. On June 6th, the Red Sox squared off with the Rangers in a rubber match to decide the series just two days after the Sox beat the Rangers 17-5. In the bottom of the 9th, with the score tied 3-3 after pretty good outings from Jon Lester and Derek Holland, Jonny Gomes led off with a rocket off the monster for a double. I was at this game, and I remember remarking to the guy I was with that “Jonny Gomes had the ugliest swing in baseball” but somehow, if anyone was going to break this game open, it would be him. After this, Ron Washington made the decision to walk Pedroia to get to David Ortiz. Insulted at the very thought of having the batter ahead of him get intentionally walked, Ortiz launched the first pitch he saw into the Red Sox bullpen.
The look of disgust as he drops the bat is really what gets me. David Ortiz is indeed a bad, bad man. Here’s a look from another angle.
The Yankees bit was simply icing on the cake for what was a truly special moment. Working the count to 3-1, Xander took the next pitch deep to left, driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. to give the Red Sox a 12-3 lead, with the Red Sox taking the best of four series against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. As a fun bonus, Xander had another RBI in the game on a groundout, which also scored Jackie Bradley Jr.
In a series that many thought, as this point in the season, would serve as a preview of the ALCS (in retrospect, pretty damn close) the Red Sox squeaked out a close one with Lester pitching 7 innings of one run ball. Scherzer did not pitch quite as well, tossing 7 innings of two run ball, as he chased win number 20 on the season (which would not come against the Red Sox). A resurgent Will Middlebrooks, returning from a stint in AAA, would seal Scherzer’s fate in the 5th inning with a 2 RBI single, and a trio of Red Sox relievers followed by Koji Uehara shut the door in the 8th and 9th innings. In one of the most pivotal points in the game, the bottom of the 8th, with no outs and the 2012 AL MVP Miguel Cabrera at the plate, the rookie Brandon Workman would force a fly ball to right. This would prove a preview of the ALCS, where three games were decided by a single run.
Not all that much to say here, the 2013 ALCS MVP was excellent during the season and postseason, and was yet another successful free agent addition for the 2013 team. It was only fitting that the season would end with this:
On a night when the Red Sox had no answer for Felix Hernandez, who gave up 1 run in 7 innings pitched, the Red Sox scored six runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat the Mariners 8-7. A very weird night, where Henry Blanco hit a grand slam off of a woeful Ryan Dempster, got even stranger when the umpires forced Mariners manager, Robby Thompson, to bring in the lefty Oliver Perez after he first tapped his left arm. Thompson had actually intended to go to a righty, Yoervis Medina, to face Shane Victorino, but was instead stuck with Perez. The bases were loaded at this point, and Victorino singled to right field to make it a 5-7 game. The game would end after more Boston hits, culminating in a Daniel Nava singled to win the game, 8-7.
The night before the 6 run 9th inning, the Red Sox were in the middle of a closer game against the Mariners. After Seattle tied up the game at 4 in the top of the 8th, neither team could score again until the game went into the 15th inning. After two singles to put runners on first and second with only one out, Jonny Gomes made a spectacular double play to send the game into the bottom of the 15th, where the Sox won on a Stephen Drew single to score Pedroia.
Coming into a 7-8 slugfest, Mariano Rivera intended to seal a Yankee win in a best of four series at Yankee Stadium. 2013 would serve to be the Mariano Rivera farewell tour as teams paid tribute to the baseball legend’s final year. The Red Sox would be no different, although in his final game at Fenway in late September he received a bit of a roast rather than the praise given by other teams. He would not pitch in that game, as the Red Sox won 9-2, but he did pitch earlier in September in a one run game at Yankee Stadium. Given the one run lead to work with, Rivera got two quick outs from Ortiz and Nava before allowing a single to Mike Napoli. In his most significant moment of 2013, Quentin Berry came in as a pinch runner for Napoli and stole second base, advancing to third on a bouncing throw. Berry would then score on a single from Stephen Drew to complete the blown save. The Red Sox would win, 9-8 in 10 innings and eventually take 3 of 4 games in the series, a rare occurrence in the Bronx.
This isn’t exactly a Red Sox moment, but in what would prove to be Rivera’s final appearance at Fenway, he received a standing ovation from the crowd, and that — to me at least — is special.
Nava was a standout all season long, providing 1.8 fWAR in a platoon with Jonny Gomes. He got a criminally small amount of World Series playing time (despite Gomes hitting rather infrequently, although his 3 run homerun in game 5 was nothing short of clutch), but he was an integral member of the 2013 team. On April 20th, at the Sox’ first game back at Fenway after the Boston Marathon bombings, a game which David Ortiz started with a rousing “This is Our Fucking City,” Daniel Nava would come up big with a 3 run homerun to give the Sox a 4-2 lead over the Royals.
After going into a late-season slump, the Rays found themselves 9.5 games back of first place, with hopes of winning the East all but lost. They did, however, bring a 3-3 tie into extra innings against the Red Sox on September 11th after a fairly solid Alex Cobb start. In the top of the 10th inning Joel Peralta and Roberto Hernandez would allow the Red Sox to load the bases, until Mike Carp managed to put one over the center field fence at the Trop, leaving the only work left for Junichi Tazawa to finish the job in the bottom of the 10th.
Jonny Gomes is Good at Pinch Hitting
Gomes’ heroics can be chalked up to intangibles, but to give the guy credit, he was an excellent platoon man for the Red Sox in 2013, providing 1.0 fWAR while standing in for Daniel Nava against lefties. He had multiple excellent pinch hit moments, such as a walk off against the Padres on July 3rd, and somehow provided the spark the Sox needed to win Game 5 of the World Series. He also introduced us to the helmet punt…
… and also provided us with fun moments with Jamie Erdahl …
…and Jenny Dell.
I probably left some things out, as there were so many great moments in 2013, but the above stood out to me as some of the best the year had to offer. Did I leave something pivotal out? Let me know, @ntenczar on Twitter.
I grabbed the GIFs from a combination of Over the Monster, NESN, and Fangraphs, so thanks to those guys for the good work they do.