The day the Red Sox realized they could actually make a run at this thing

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By , WEEI 93.7

The crowd. The atmosphere. The result. The celebration.

Tuesday night, Oct. 5, 2021. That was the day the Red Sox beat the Yankees in a winner-take-all Wild Card showdown. There were a lot of reasons to remember the moment.

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But as this whole Red Sox postseason runs unfolds, the day stands out reasons not truly known to casual observers until now.

Just ask Xander Bogaerts, Nick Pivetta and Garrett Whitlock.

Speaking to WEEI.com on the Fenway Park field after his team's American League Division Series-clinching win, Bogaerts was asked when he truly knew such success was possible.

The answer started with the tone we had heard throughout the 2021 campaign, but then took a turn toward a much more specific date.

"The whole year. We were in first-place for a lot of the year," Bogaerts said. "But to be honest, after beating the Yankees in the Wild Card game, that was huge. I have to be honest, and us beating them that was huge. It felt different winning the game."

It made some sense. The Yankees had taken care of business against the Red Sox just a weeks before, sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway. Alex Cora's club had weathered the storm through Baltimore and Washington, but evidently still had a little doubt lingering.

That win over the Yankees put that in the rearview mirror.

"I think I agree with what Xander said," Pivetta told WEEI.com. "I think it was after the Yankees series, after that Wild Card win, because it was such a crucial game and there was so much to it. I think that put us in that mindset that we were capable of this, capable of moving forward. These little wins add on to that. It gives us confidence."

And it wasn't just the final score that served as a springboard.

For rookie pitcher Garrett Whitlock, that ninth inning against the Yankees, even with the five-run lead, came with the kind of postseason nerves the regular season simply can't simulate.

It was a different stage, but the same results were expected. For the faith-based 25-year-old, one quick instance in that Wild Card chaos set him up for whatever high-tension moments awaited.

"I think one of the coolest things was when I came into the Wild Card game, Vazqy, he didn’t try and pump me up or anything like that. He just looked at me and said, ‘We play for Jesus.’ That was the coolest thing," Whitlock said.
"That gave me a lot of comfort and a lot of peace. That was pretty awesome, him just looking me in the eye and saying that. And when I hugged him at the end we looked each other in the eyes and said, ‘Yup, we play for Jesus.’"

The next thing you know, Whitlock is getting out of the no-out, tie game, man-on-second jam against the Rays on the way to earning the Game 4 win.

What a difference a day made.

"I’m grateful to be in this spot and I’m humbled to be in this spot," Whitlock said. "I never know if this will ever happen again in my career. I want to soak it in, enjoy the moment."