He might not find his name on the same Red Sox marquee of misery as Bucky Dent, Mookie Wilson or Aaron Boone. But Dan Johnson sure is making a pretty good case.
Think back to September 2008, and a critical game at Fenway Park. A Sox victory gives them the AL East lead and likely home-field advantage for a potential ALCS matchup.
Instead, Johnson, having literally shown up mid-game after missing a flight on the way from being summoned from the minors, homers off Jonathan Papelbon, and instead Game 7 of the ALCS is played at Tropicana Field, where the Rays beat the Sox.
That was just Johnson’s opening act. Wednesday, before the whirlwind double-endings in Baltimore and St. Petersburg ended the Sox’s season, Johnson kept the Rays alive one more time, hitting a two-strike, two-out solo homer in the ninth to tie Tampa’s game against the Yankees 7-7. It set the stage for Evan Longoria’s Sox-killing walkoff in the 12th.
“Dan Johnson, God bless him,” teammate Ben Zobrist said. “I said a prayer for him when he was up there.”
And so it’s the Rays taking on the Rangers in Game 1 of the Division Series today, having completed a comeback that began with a series sweep over the reeling Sox from Sept. 9-11, cutting the wild-card lead from six to three.
It all seemed for naught for the Rays, trailing 7-0 in the eighth inning, as the Red Sox lead 3-2. But after a six-run eighth, Johnson kept the dream alive.
“That is so unthinkable to do what we did,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “At the moment it happens, what are you supposed to do? What do you react to this? How do you actually celebrate? … I don’t know. I am pretty good at digesting things, but this one’s going to take a bit.”