JD Martinez

After dropping three straight to one of the worst teams in the American League, the Red Sox seemed in danger of falling into one of those out-of-the-gate spirals that engulfs the team, then the city, then guys like me who spend their days in darkened rooms drinking beer and writing letters to the Governor to demand that he install Xander Bogaerts as Massachusetts’ ambassador to Aruba.

The good news is that the Sox weren’t having it. Despite being down 3-1 in the late innings, they hung tight and closed the gap to 3-2 in the eighth, then 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, when Christian Vazquez went yard and gave us this season’s first HOLY SHIT moment. Plus, my man GOT THE FULL HOME RUN CART TREATMENT.

Of course, that just brought us to extra innings and under the new MLB rules, each team gets to place a runner on second to start the inning. It’s a great idea in theory, and I say this as someone whose ass muscles seized up violently after spending a day and night at Fenway for a joyless, 16-inning affair. But there’s also the potential for it to make the game go even longer.

For a brief moment, that seemed to be where we were heading, and it had me going all-in at the powerplay website. In the top of the eleventh, the Rays plated that given runner to take a one-run lead. Then in the bottom of the inning, the Red Sox did the same to tie things up once again. Then, in the top of the twelfth, the Rays plated that runner yet again. And just when it seemed like I’d be a prisoner — because, let’s face it, when you’ve made the emotional investment in an extra inning game, you’re in until it ends or you consume so many Cheez-Its that you’re rendered unconscious — we got an exceptional combination of Red Sox excellence and Tampa Bay ineptitude. With runners on second and third, JD Martinez lofted one to right field that went right over the head of the Rays’ Arozarena, who apparently never got the memo that JD knocks the shit out of baseballs. Two runs in, cue beer-soaked delirium. Because, as Shakespeare once famously told us, “Walk-offs are fucking awesome.”

What a difference a game makes. I don’t know if I’m ready to start laying down Vegas odds on the Red Sox to win the World Series. But for a few hours last night, I was swilling cheap beer, yelling at the TV, living and dying on every pitch, screaming my ass off for a walk-off and basically forgetting about the shitshow of a world outside my front door.

That’s all I can ask from my baseball team. So thanks, Red Sox. I’m a satisfied customer.