Rookie Ryan Lavarnway played the game of his life, saving the Sox season for one night. (AP Photo)
With a few friends at my apartment we watched the Sox game on mute as Wilco's new album, "The Whole Love" provided a soundtrack to the game. A few minutes before the first pitch I turned to Jesse and Josef and proclaimed that Ryan Lavarnway was going to not only have a huge night, but also hit the first homerun of his career. Their reaction was the same, both turning my way asking "Who?"
Back in March I wrote a post on Lavarnway, and have kept an eye on him all year. I thought he did well DH-ing during his first call-up, and when I heard he was getting the start at catcher I was excited. While I think Jarrod Saltalamacchia has done OK this year, he's been absolutely putrid in September, hitting only .162 while striking out an astonishing 27 times with only a single walk. Lavarnway is the opposite, and is known for his plate discipline and power. Our Starting pitchers have been garbage all month, and the only way the Sox have been able to win games is by scoring a crap load of runs, and Lavarnway helps increase those offensive odds.
What really pushed my excitement over the top is when I saw Lavarnway talking with Erik Bedard before the game. Seeing both of them in frame with the weight of the Sox season on their shoulders blew my mind. If you told a Red Sox fan back in March the Sox fate would be in these two guys hands, when so many high paid all-stars pocketed the Team, they would have laughed at you, but this is what 2011 has become. The odds of these two being paired together are as random as life, and there they were, mapping out a game plan, and trying to ignore the pressure bestowed on them. I again turned to Jesse and stated that the game had all the makings of legendary status, and the prophecy turned true, as Ryan Lavarnway wrote his first chapter in the book of Red Sox lore.
I was desperate for anything last night, and on his first at-bat I jumped off of my couch like an amateur as he weakly flied out to left. I still stood by my prediction though, and possibly inspired by a few 'Gansett's and the music of Wilco - I started calling Lavarnway "The Finger of Zeus", and the rest as they say, is history. Lavarnway went on to hit 2 HR's with 4 RBI all while playing some superb defense at catcher. We've seen this scenario as recently as May, when Tyler Seguin became a playoff hero for the Bruins - and I think not starting the kid tonight would be a huge mistake. Is he going to play as well as he did last night, most likely not - but there's no disputing he's a far superior offensive talent than Salty or Tek, and we need to score runs to win this month, no way around it.
Red Sox pitching is not going to allow us to win a 3-2 ballgame, so we have to throw caution to the wind here and start the kid again. It's not like Lester's been pitching great with Salty behind the plate this month, so I see high reward with low risk in starting Lavarnway. The Finger of Zeus already started with the Sox season on the line last night, and he ended up winning the game for the Sox - so who's to say lightning can't strike twice?