Red Sox

McAdam: Walkoff win can catapult Red Sox in right direction

McAdam: Walkoff win can catapult Red Sox in right direction

BOSTON -- The Red Sox ended the day where they began it -- in first place in the American League East -- and only two teams in the league have more wins.

But through the first 145 games, they somehow lacked many signature wins.

They have routinely won games in lopsided fashion, helping them amass the most runs of any team in either league, but often, the victories seemed like mere piling-on.

Look, for example, at their last seven wins. In five of them, the Red Sox scored double-figures in runs, and four of them, the margin of victory was nine or greater. They seem capable of winning 16-2, or 13-3, sure, but the closer, more contested games gave them headaches.

In one-run games -- like the one they lost Wednesday night -- the Red Sox were a mere 16-22.

And walkoffs, the kind of games that can propel a team forward, provide momentum, the Red Sox were just 2-5 before Thursday night.

Put another way: the Red Sox had lost twice as many games on errors by the first baseman or at first base alone than they won on walkoffs.

That's hard to do. Actually, "hard'' doesn't quite tell the story. That would seem impossible to do.

But those were the facts.

Until Thursday night.

Until Hanley Ramirez happened.

The Red Sox had already scored twice in the ninth to pull within a run of the New York Yankees when Ramirez came to the plate with the tying run at third and the winning run at second.

Ramirez was not going to be content with a bloop single.

"I was trying to go to the moon," said Ramirez unabashedly.

When Betances threw a 3-and-1 fastball, Ramirez achieved liftoff, driving a shot into the center field bleachers, resulting in a 7-5 Red Sox win and delirium at Fenway.

"That's my best baseball moment," gushed Mookie Betts. "Some other guys have been in the playoffs and won World Series. I'm trying to get there, so for me, that's at the top of the list."

Ramirez's homer alone -- dramatic as it was -- won't get Betts and the rest of the Red Sox a trip to the World Series. There's a playoff spot to be clinched yet, and several rounds of post-season series to win for that to happen.

But it's difficult to overstate the importance of Thursday's win. Had the Sox lost, the lead would have remained a slim one game and the four-team pile up that is the A.L. East would have gotten even more congested.

Instead, the Red Sox snap a two-game losing streak, push the Yankees back a full game in the standings and say something about themselves.

This is September now, and everything means a little more. So the fact that the Red Sox had had just two walkoff wins all year, the fact that they had won only three games all season in which they trailed after eight innings? None of that matters much.

Not after Hanley Ramirez booked a trip to the moon, and decided to take his teammates along for the ride.

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.