Without the spark, there can be no fire
A trivial tidbit, it should be mentioned that Hanley Ramirez’s Walk-off Home Run off of Dellin Betances to commence this winning streak was the first Red Sox walk-off win of the season in the regulation nine-innings. The two other walk-off wins by the 2016 Boston Red Sox occurred in extra innings.
In the immortal words of Bruce Springsteen, “You can’t start a fire without a spark.” The spark that ignited this winning streak and ultimately ended the season of the team owned by our good friends Hank and Hal Steinbrenner was Hanley Ramirez’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World, Part Deux.”
Allow me to set the stage so we can all relive that magical moment. With two outs in the bottom half of the ninth inning, the Red Sox were trailing the New York Yankees 5-4, with runners occupying second and third base. Ramirez had worked the count against the Yankee closer to three Balls and one Strike. Then came the fifth-pitch of the at-bat; a pitch that forever altered the 2016 campaigns of the two teams engaged in the contest.
Betances unleashed a 99-mph fastball that Ramirez deposited over the centerfield wall for the greatest regular season victory of the 2016 Red Sox.
In the preceding section, the virtues of the bullpen were extolled and that praise ties into Ramirez’s at-bat bearing any relevance. If the bullpen, specifically Robby Scott’s 3 innings of scoreless relief were instead 3 innings of 3-run relief, the Red Sox are likely too far behind in the ball game for Hanley’s at-bat to be of any significance.
In other words, without the bullpen putting up zeroes, Hanley’s Home Run would not have been a walk-off and would have simply reduced the deficit.
The moral from this little vignette is that in order for the Red Sox to allow the best offense in baseball to work its magic, the pitching staff must keep the score of the game within reason.
Hanley’s Home Run will never be forgotten, but an often-overlooked contribution is that of the bullpen, if they do not do their job, there is no walk-off, and we simply lose by a score of 8-7, in addition to a game in the standings.