Last year, when the New York Yankees were rolling and considered the unquestioned best team in baseball, their season was of course interrupted with a trip to Fenway Park, where all they do is lose, lose, lose ... and lose some more.
They ended up splitting that series, but the damage had already been done. Red Sox nation got their jabs in when the Yankees were four outs away from taking three out of four only for their best reliever to blow it.
In the bottom of the eighth inning with the Yankees leading 3-2, Clay Holmes, at the time the most dangerous reliever in the sport (0.46 ERA!) came in to clean up for Michael King, who got the first two outs of the inning but then allowed a double to JD Martinez.
Holmes walked Xander Bogaerts and then got Alex Verdugo in an 0-2 hole. Right where he wanted him. His next pitch couldn't have been located better. It was a tailing 98 MPH fastball high and outside, but Verdugo somehow got enough bat on it to poke it through the left side. The game was all of a sudden tied.
And then Verdugo won it in extras with a two-run single. This prompted Red Sox fans to have their fun, claiming Verdugo "broke" Holmes, which was partially true. Holmes went on to endure a second-half slide unlike any other. In 21 games, he logged a 4.84 ERA and 1.30 WHIP while striking out only 21 batters in 22.1 innings after being unhittable in his first 41 games.
So when Verdugo came to the plate on Tuesday afternoon in the bottom of the ninth to face Holmes after the right-hander had walked the bases loaded, you could smell the Red Sox walking it off. In another 3-2 game, however, Verdugo did the worst thing he possibly could have: he swung at the first pitch and bailed out Holmes, who couldn't find the plate for the 7-8-9 hitters.
Alex Verdugo's game-ending double play vs Clay Holmes gives Yankees fans a good laugh
The Yankees might not be playing for anything, but perhaps Red Sox fans shouldn't forget they're not either. And that they're battling for last place with New York. Laugh at the Yankees all you want, but you're right there too. And you're just as bad. You're one game better. You should also be better. Why is the Yankees' situation that much more embarrassing than Boston's?
As much as Red Sox fans tried to speak "Year of the Dugie" into existence, the "crown jewel" from the Mookie Betts trade was benched multiple times this year for immaturity reasons and is still offering Boston nothing emblematic of a star centerpiece in return for one of the best players in MLB.
Verdugo's been good for a 3.0 WAR this season and has a .276 with a .785 OPS and 109 OPS+, but these are his prime years and he's yet to show progression since arriving in Boston. Perhaps that's the bigger story when we look back in time instead of him "breaking" Holmes, who's been named to more All-Star games than Verdugo?
Don't know. But this series could very well determine who finishes the season last place in the AL East, and Red Sox fans might not be prepared for the bombardment of insults headed their way if Boston parlays their Wild Card choke into yet another year in the basement.