That could have gone very poorly. The Red Sox, on the road, had built up a decent lead. Rick Porcello pitched decently, into the seventh. He left the game with the lead, following a quality start. Not quite Pedro Martinez out there, or even 2016 Rick Porcello, but we'll take it.
Then the Rangers scored a run in the eighth. No big deal. All you need to do is get the game into Kimbrel's hands. Get to the ninth holding the lead and everything will be fine.
But it wasn't.
Kimbrel actually blew the save. Suddenly all the bad thoughts creep into your head. Why couldn't the offense just score one more run? How did that inherited runner score? Why couldn't the Red Sox have just done one more thing right. It's easy to see how that would become mentally deflating for the team.
Not for this team.
Hembree did his job following Kimbrel. He kept the Rangers scoreless in the tenth to match the Sox. Then, the offense took over, scoring two runs to put the game away.
It was the sort of thing that could have fallen apart. "Well, the winning streak was nice while it lasted." "Tough game on the road, what whatcha gonna do?"
Whenever the Red Sox lose a tough game, people seem to mark it down. If a starter stays in the game one batter too long, and the Sox lose the game. Or there's a miscue in the outfield allowing the winning run to score. People say it. "Remember this game in September when they're down two in the division with three to play. Every loss is noted so that it can come back to haunt them.
But, why not mark this game down? "July 3. Won a game they could have easily lost." Let's remember this game when they're first in the division come September. Because wins can be remembered too. This one let the Red Sox keep their current three game lead.
That's pretty important.
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