Can we send David Ortiz to the budget negotiations?

It has been a discouraging last few days with the only real bright spot being Friday (and then we went back Saturday) at Symphony Hall with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We wanted to hear Thomas Ades, Polaris a second time and Friday night the BSO did not do Franck’s Symphony in D Minor which my husband loves.   But we came home Saturday night to no budget/debt ceiling deal and the Red Sox striking out, also.  I often tune in to some of the Sunday news shows, but couldn’t stand to hear any more Republican Congresspersons who have no clue about what the debt ceiling is much less understand any thing about the economy.  One of my friends posted this on Facebook the other day

Despite their lofty status in managing American affairs, it appears to me that few Congresspersons have any meaningful understanding of how their chronic politicization of economic policies substantially degrades, perhaps permanently, the dollar’s status as the global reserve currency. Evidence of the dollar’s decline to a commodity status is increasingly apparent. In time, every American will feel a crippling pain that no amount of political negotiating can cure.

Given this state of things, I retreated to a game of Civilization V where I could control, more or less, my own universe until after Sunday dinner when the Red Sox could take over.  But, after watching strike out after strike out with Clay Buchholz pitching sooo very slowly while getting slammed around in the sixth, I retreated.  I woke up just before 6 am this morning having just had a dream that I woke up and the Sox had come back.  I turned on the radio, I found that is was true!

Peter Abraham explains

In what has been a season full of memorable late-inning victories at Fenway Park, the Red Sox saved the best for when they needed it the most in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series Sunday night.

Trailing by four runs against the Detroit Tigers, the Sox tied the game on a grand slam by David Ortiz in the eighth inning then won it, 6-5, when Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to drive in Jonny Gomes in the ninth.

The remarkable victory had the players chasing Saltalamacchia across the outfield and the sellout crowd of 38,029 chanting “Let’s Go Red Sox!” as they left Fenway.

“When you back us into a wall, you either do two things: cave or fight. We’re gonna fight,” Dustin Pedroia said.

That wall was hard to get over. The Sox had scored one run through the 16 innings in the series, going 3 for 51 at the plate with 30 strikeouts. Detroit starter Max Scherzer allowed one run on two hits over seven innings and struck out 13.

And then.

Will Middlebrooks doubled to left field off Jose Veras to start the rally. Then Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk off Drew Smyly.

Al Albuquerque was next out of the Detroit bullpen. He struck out Shane Victorino for the second out, but Pedroia singled to right. Third base coach Brian Butterfield held Middlebrooks, wanting to make sure Ortiz got his chance.

Ortiz swung at the first pitch, a changeup away, and was strong enough to pull it into the Red Sox bullpen in right field for his first career postseason grand slam and the fourth in Red Sox history.

Right fielder Torii Hunter tumbled over the wall trying to make a catch as Boston police officer Steve Horgan raised his arms in joy. Bullpen catcher Mani Martinez, who was warming up Koji Uehara, casually turned and caught the ball.

It was bedlam at Fenway and the crowd kept cheering until Ortiz emerged from the dugout and tipped his helmet to them.

“My idea wasn’t to go out and hit a grand slam,” Ortiz said. “If I was telling you about thinking about hitting a grand slam, I’d be lying to you now.”

A hero of postseasons past, David Ortiz rounds third base — as the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera looks on — to a standing ovation after his grand slam in the eighth inning tied Game 2 at 5.

A hero of postseasons past, David Ortiz rounds third base — as the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera looks on — to a standing ovation after his grand slam in the eighth inning tied Game 2 at 5.

Gotta love David.

There was still a game to win. After Uehara retired the Tigers in order, Gomes was again the catalyst.

He reached on an infield single off Rick Porcello and took second on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Iglesias, the former Sox player known for his defensive skills.

“No is not an option for this team,” Gomes said. “Once I got on second, I was going to do anything I could to score.”

Gomes advanced on a wild pitch and scored when Saltalamacchia singled to left field.

“I felt good,” Saltalamacchia said. “Trying to hit the ball up the middle and take your chance.”

It was the 12th walkoff win of the season for the Red Sox.

So now we have something to watch on the highlight reels other than strike out after strike out.  There is joy in Mudville after all.  The Red Sox head for Detroit to face Justin Verlander, still another one of the Tigers’ great pitchers.  Let’s end this with something to ponder.  My husband heard Verlander ask this question:  If a pitch grazes a Red Sox’s beard, did he get hit by the pitch?

Now if only someone would hit a grand slam on the budget and knock out Ted Cruz and his friends.

Photograph:  Jim Davis/Globe Staff

And the race is on!

The Red Sox begin the second half of the season tonight facing steamy heat and the somewhat diminished, but always dangerous, New York Yankees.  The real race for the American League East title begins.  The Boston Globe story by Julian Benbow lays out the facts.

Whenever Jonny Gomes would glance at the standings, he got an idea just how much of a tug of war the American League East is.

The fact that four of the five teams are above .500 was overshadowed by what the division did against the rest of the league.

In the first half, the AL East went a combined 70-54 against the Central, 53-39 against the West, and 35-19 in interleague play.

“I’ve actually looked at our standings and you saw the whole AL East win,” Gomes said. “It seems like the only time a team loses is when we play each other. It’s a big division. It truly is.”

Which is why the Red Sox’ first 10 games out of the All-Star break will be a grueling and critical test.  They start with a three-game set this weekend with the Yankees, then play four with the second-place Rays, and then hit the road for three games against the Orioles.

The Sox enter Friday with a major league-leading 58 wins, but 38 of their final 65 games are against division foes.

So how did they do against the division so far?  According to Steve Melewski who writes about the Orioles

Boston is 4-2 this year against the Yankees and 9-3 against Tampa, but just 2-5 versus the Orioles.

My father used to say about the Atlanta Braves who had trouble with the Mets, “It never matters how bad or good the teams are, the Mets win.”  I hope this isn’t true about the Red Sox and Orioles.

Clay Buchholz needs to get better without rushing his recovery and Jon Lester needs to get his head straight and start winning.  Lester started out the season pitching quicker than he had before, but now he seems to have slowed again.

More from Gomes and Benbow

The Sox know how crucial the final months of the season can be. They’ve gone into the break with the division lead in five of the last seven seasons, but have won the division just once over that span.

“It’s going to be a scrap,” Gomes said. “It’s a tough division. You see last place here could be third or second in other divisions. So that speaks for itself. At the same time, the Sox aren’t going to sneak up on anybody on the road.”

The Sox were able to navigate injuries and issues in the first half in large part because of depth and some deft decision-making by Farrell.

But with a daunting schedule ahead in a tightly packed division, returning to full strength will play a large part in sustaining success and returning to the postseason.

“Where we’re at right now, we’re not going to sneak up on anyone,” Gomes said. “So we just have to simplify — win each game, win each inning, stay healthy and keep going north.”

Many Sox fans, including me (I predicted a .500 team.) were surprised by the first half.  Now we are ready to be surprised by the second.  Let’s start by beating up on the Yankees.

The Red Sox head into the post-All-Star Game portion of the season with a 2.5-game lead in the AL East.

The Red Sox head into the post-All-Star Game portion of the season with a 2.5-game lead in the AL East.

Photograph:  Jared Wickerham/Getty Images