And down the stretch they come — without Damon
It sure would have been fun to have Johnny Damon back down the stretch. There would have been an element of excitement, just because of the lightning rod he can be. Or perhaps Damon put it even better yesterday after explaining his decision to stay in Detroit.
“I texted with Varitek and I talked to Big Papi. And their whole thing is they want a spark,” Damon said. “They obviously feel like they need a spark. If I was going there, obviously, it’s going to be the biggest story in baseball to detract them from what’s going on the field, because the attention’s on me and my wacky self. But that’s not going to happen. That’s done.”
Can the Red Sox do it without Damon’s wacky self, even without Ellsbury, Youkilis and possibly Pedroia the rest of the way?
“This has been who we are, and it’s been who we are all year and we’re in the right place,” said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. “And it’s come down to the same thing it has all year: We throw the ball well, we present ourselves with good opportunities to win. And we have to continue to do that, and that’s going to be even more important over this next month and a week.”
Or as Jonathan Papelbon notes, maybe the urgency of the situation will inspire the team to do something memorable.
“I think that once the playoff race heats up a little bit more, we can kind of see where everybody is at on the scale of, if it comes up to a couple weeks, whether our backs are against the wall or not will really determine a lot in how we go out and play,” Papelbon said. “When this team’s back has been put up against the wall, I think that’s kind of when we’ve been at our best.”
“We’re trying, we’re trying,” said Ortiz. “We’re trying to play our best and everybody knows it. It’s a ride or die situation towards the end of the season. You have to win as many games as you can so you can be playing in October.”
Can they do it with this cast?
“It’s not like we have other options,” Ortiz said. “Of course, we’re battling and we have to ride with this.”
The ride starts today for a day-night doubleheader. A sweep would be a good start for the Sox.