NEW YORK -- This is the week the Red Sox crossed over the threshold from rational to irrational, from fact to fiction, from things that can be explained to things that go bump in the night.
Our humble suggestion: Just accept that this is a baseball odyssey like very few others, and grab on with both hands for the ride. And if you’re able to grow a beard -- or a single whisker, which was about all that separated Mike Napoli's magical grand slam from being just another fly ball to right field in Yankee Stadium Friday night -- so much the better.
As the great Ned Martin said in a broadcast long ago during another wildly improbable saga with words that surely echoed in the memories of longtime Sox fans: "If you’ve just turned your radio on, it’s happened again."
A franchise that began the year bent on winning back New England hearts and minds can not only declare mission accomplished, but can lay claim to reviving a message that once inflamed the imagination of an entire generation of Sox fans.
Did you say impossible? Tell that to Yaz and Rico and Gentleman Jim, and try slipping that by the Soggy Bottom Boys of Napoli and Gomes, Victorino and Ross, Carp and Pedroia. Good luck with that.
A night after blowing a 7-2, seventh-inning lead to the Yankees, the Sox rallied from an 8-3 deficit to tie the score on Napoli’s slam, a fly ball which hit the top of the right-field wall, just 335 feet away from home plate and clearing Ichiro Suzuki’s glove by the length of his beard. Shane Victorino, the accidental right-handed slugger who won Thursday night’s game with a 10th-inning single, then broke the tie with a two-run home run in the eighth, and the Sox tacked on another two runs to win 12-8 before a crowd of 44,117. A gathering that surely preferred those days when the Yankees were the ones inflicting constant sorrow on their visitors, rather than being on the receiving end of misery, from a team now just 19 games away from a finish line that looks increasingly like a welcome mat to October.
Nine runs in the last three innings Friday night. A game-tying, broken-bat hit off The Great Rivera who had them one strike away from defeat the night before. A record-tying eight home runs the night before that in Fenway Park. A grinding 2-1 win over a pitcher who had lost only once all season the night before that.
Mind-bending feats compressed into four nights, when they could easily have filled a season’s worth of highlight reels. These guys are real -- just ask a crestfallen Joe Girardi -- but they have a knack for summoning ghosts, too.
Here’s one: Napoli’s grand slam was his third this season. Only one Sox player has hit more in one summer: Babe Ruth. And he did it in 1919, his last year in a Boston uniform. Witches can be right, giants can be good, curses can become blessings.