Among many things, the 2012 Red Sox have been a monumental tease.
Tonight at Fenway Park they will be attempting to move above .500 for the seventh time this season. Including Opening Day, they've failed in each of their previous six tries.
There have been several moments along the way that helped the club even its record and seemed perfectly suited to act as a springboard to something greater. Each time, those moments have been rendered a distant memory by a loss the following day.
The most recent of those occurrences was Jarrod Saltalamacchia's walk-off home run Saturday night at Fenway Park. Hours later, Alfredo Aceves blew a save opportunity in a Sunday matinee and the Sox were once again nothing more than a losing team in last place.
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Perhaps a blown call will serve as the catalyst. In the third inning of yesterday's 7-4 win over the Detroit Tigers shortstop Mike Aviles was given a second chance in his second-inning at-bat when his swing-and-miss was incorrectly ruled a foul tip. Aviles drove in a run with a two-out single to center and two more runs came in on hits by Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia. It was the critical rally in the opener of a big four-game series.
Sometimes you need a little luck to get over the hump.
Or, perhaps the Red Sox were just waiting to rise above .500 when it really meant something special, as it would tonight if they can defeat Justin Verlander. The reigning American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner owns a 1.13 ERA over his last three starts and allowed just two hits in eight scoreless innings against Boston on April 5, the game that started the Red Sox' six-game losing streak when their record was at .500.
To be the best, or in this case to simply get a game above .500, you have to beat the best. If not, you remain a monumental tease. And a losing team that spends weeks at a time in last place.