We take it all back. (For now.)
The animosity. The venom. The uncertainty. The apathy. The disbelief.
Forget it all. This Red Sox team could never be put in those kind of cross-hairs. Not after watching them Tuesday night.
We knew not of what we spoke.
It's understood that there would always be the chance for a 180-degree emotional swing when it came to these Red Sox. As bad as it looked and felt following a three-game sweep to those Orioles, this is how baseball sometimes works.
But, still, it was difficult to envision viewing the Red Sox in the light they bask under after a 6-5, 12-inning, walk-off win over the Rays Tuesday night. Tampa Bay was too good. Its Game 2 starter was too good.
Well, here we are.
Game-saving catches. Game-tying home runs. Game-winning hits. And, finally, those game-defining celebrations. Feeling good about the Red Sox in the first week of a season has officially now happened for the first time in three years.
"It's fun and the people here, the fans, I don't know how many we have, but it gets loud and they're into it," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It's fun, it's fun for the fans. Nothing has changed from what we think who we are. We still believe we have a good baseball team, we still have to work on it. Emotionally, it's a roller coaster."
With any good comeback story there has to be the moments that pave the way. Sure, there was Monday night's blowout win. And, yes, Tuesday's starter Martin Perez managed to hold his own against Rays ace Tyler Glasnow for his five innings. But the reality was that the Red Sox were teetering on dropping to 1-4 heading into the final three innings.
But then came the first key difference-maker, and things just got rolling from there ...
- Two Rays on base, one out, the Red Sox trailing by two runs in the seventh. Reliever Hirokazu Sawamura allows a long fly ball off the bat of Manuel Margot. Left fielder Franchy Cordero uses all 6-foo-3 of himself to reel in the baseball, ending the inning and the threat with a double-play.
- The following inning, the Red Sox' offense woke up just in time, with J.D. Martinez doubling in Alex Verdugo to tie the game. Sure, Martinez ended the threat by forgetting out how many outs there were, but ... there would be time to make amends.
- Christian Vazquez, who has sneakily been an offensive force to start the season, allowed for the first real jolt of Fenway fan-induced emotion in two years thanks to his game-tying, leadoff home run in the ninth inning.
- The smile from Rafael Devers finally returned, thanks in large part to his game-tying, opposite field single on the first pitch the Red Sox saw in the 11th inning. (Yes, the runner-on-the-second-base-to-start-an-extra-inning has added much-needed spice to these baseball games.)
- The lock-down relief work, highlighted by the image of Matt Barnes utterly dominating Rays hitters. The righty retired all six batters he saw in the eighth and ninth innings, striking out four of them.
- And, finally, there was Martinez's walk-off ...
The Red Sox have taken a series over the defending American League champs. Hitters have started to hit and pitchers are pitching just enough. There are laundry cart rides and celebratory games of tag.
All is right with the Red Sox' world. Who knew we would ever be believing that by Wednesday?
"They did an amazing job," Cora said. "We had to go to some guys that they're not used to doing that, and some guys that we've been using a lot .Franchy saves the game with the defense. We played the extra inning rule the right way. We don't care about the runner at second, we care about the hitter, that's the most important run of the inning. If they score one, we've got a man on second with no outs. The chances of us scoring are high. It was overall a great game, and I think the most important thing out of this, we won the series agist the American League defending champions."