We started giving up on the Red Sox early.
The Orioles swept them in Fenway to open the season and we declared the campaign over before it even started.
The Red Sox responded.
They hit the trade deadline in first place, but failed to make a significant move (we thought). Eight losses in 11 games dropped them out of playoff position, ever so briefly.
The Red Sox responded.
No sooner had they turned things around with the arrivals of Kyle Schwarber and Chris Sale than a COVID outbreak ravaged the roster. When Xander Bogaerts was pulled off the field in Tampa, it seemed too much to overcome. Surely, the season was over.
The Red Sox once again responded.
So it shouldn't surprise anyone that one day being shut out by the Rays in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, the Red Sox responded.
It took a minute, and you would've been excused for surrendering when someone named Jordan Luplow blasted a first-inning grand slam off of Chris Sale, but the Red Sox being the Red Sox, they refused to go quietly.
They blasted a franchise playoff-record five home runs, none bigger than a three-run shot to dead center by J.D. Martinez to break a 5-5 tie in the fifth inning en route to a 14-6 victory that deadlocks the series at 1-1 and brings things back to Boston, where the Red Sox will have an opportunity to close out the 100-win Rays with victories on Sunday afternoon and Marathon Monday.
If you saw this coming when the Red Sox trailed 5-2 and Sale didn't even come back out for the second inning, you're a true diehard. The rest of us figured they were cooked after the Rays toyed with them in Game 1, stealing home, laughing in the field, and eating popcorn in the dugout.
But the Red Sox unleashed an offensive barrage that suggested all of that fruitless hard contact in Game 1 actually meant something. Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo went back-to-back. Kiké Hernández launched a game-tying homer and nearly added an insurance blast. Martinez teed off on Matt Wisler.
The fearsome, relentless attack makes you wonder how rookie Drew Rasmussen will react to a hostile crowd when he starts Game 3 at Fenway Park against the indomitable Nathan Eovaldi.
The crowd should be rocking, because postseason breeds heroes, and Red Sox fans will have their pick after Friday's effort. Martinez wasn't even in the lineup until an hour before game time, the team giving his balky ankle every extra second. He responded with four hits.
Reliever Tanner Houck replaced Sale to start the second inning and delivered five innings of one-run ball. He wasn't even threatened until Ji-Man Choi homered to left field with two outs in the sixth. The Red Sox don't win without him, and he's probably in line to start a Game 5, if it's needed.
Verdugo, one of the lineup's X-factors, recorded three hits of his own and made one of the catches of the game, reaching into the stands in the left field corner to snag a long Nelson Cruz foul ball.
Meanwhile, Hernández recorded five hits -- a single, three doubles and a homer. And Rafael Devers, battling a reported forearm injury that had caused some ugly swings, swatted an insurance two-run homer.
That's called sending a message that you're not done, not by a longshot. And indeed, they now have life. Why did we ever doubt them? We should've known better.
The Red Sox responded. It's what they do.