Game-Changer: The Great Pumpkin Strikes | The Process Report

Game-Changer: The Great Pumpkin Strikes

Baseball has a way to make you feel stupid, and through the first six games, the Rays looked like nincompoops. Tonight, though, the Rays showed irreverence for common ene.

Matt Thornton is arguably the best left-handed reliever in baseball and anytime he has to record three outs with a three-run lead it looks like a sure thing; even more so when the opposition trots out Elliot Johnson, Felipe Lopez, and Sam Fuld. Naturally, Johnson singled, Fuld reached on an error, Johnny Damon reached on an error, and B.J. Upton singled off Thornton, leading to a lefty-on-lefty matchup with Dan Johnson. Johnson won and shifted the Rays win expectancy by more than 53 percent –in other words, he changed the game in a devastating manner.

It is hard to believe a player with fewer than 200 plate appearances could have so many memorable moments, but Johnson is the most irrational exuberance creator in franchise history. Despite entering the game with a .043 batting average and on-base percentage, this is probably only the second most unlikely big home run he has hit.

Of course, this is not meant to be a paean, as Johnson’s struggles were legitimate. Not much had changed since my post earlier this week, in which I essentially gave him advice that can be paraphrased (and framed in an Andre 3000 verse) like so: Keep your heart, DanJo, keep your heart, keep your heart, DanJo, keep your heart. Man, these pitchers are smart, DanJo, these pitchers are smart. Play your part. Play your part.

Tonight alone does not erase the recent issues on a macro or micro level, but as forced as narratives here, hopefully this is looked upon as a turning point over the next few weeks. Maybe it’s fitting that The Great Pumpkin rose in the last hour of the seventh day –one of the weirdest in franchise history.

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