There will be better days ahead for Wil Myers. Friday, however, will be a day he'd like to forget.
The 22-year-old stud outfielder is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors and the Rays probably wouldn't be in the playoffs without his contributions since his call-up in mid-June.
I wrote at the All-Star break in my "Predictions for the Second Half of the MLB Season" that Wil Myers would be a difference maker in 2013. Well, I was right, but maybe for the wrong reasons.
Myers did hit 13 home runs and drove in 53 runs over 88 games while hitting .293 during the regular season. Projected over a full season and he'd have numbers that any major leaguer would be proud to have attached to his name.
But on Friday, it was his glove, not his bat, that may have been the turning point in this series and, maybe, history.
Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester appeared to be a little rattled by the homers as well as a pivotal missed strike three call. The Fenway crowd was beginning to simmer. The prospects of going down one game to none against the Rays with David Price looming for Game Two became a sobering thought.
Enter Wil Myers, stage right-- or right field, as it is. Dustin Pedroia led off the fourth inning with a single. David Ortiz then hit a towering drive to deep right field. Ortiz, as he is wont to do, thought the ball was gone as he stood at home plate for a second to admire the flight of the ball. Myers drifted back to the warning track and stuck his right arm out. Maybe he was feeling for the fence. Maybe he was calling off the (slowly) approaching center fielder Desmond Jennings. Then, with the ball a split second from landing harmlessly into his glove for the first out of the inning, Myers ducked forward allowing the ball to land and bounce into the Red Sox dugout for a ground rule double (wonder if Ortiz will dispute that ruling).
Everyone watching was in shock. What just happened? David Ortiz (after finally sauntering to second base) and Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar stood at second base staring at the center field video screen. Rays manager Joe Maddon stood on the top step of the dugout staring in the same direction. Broadcasters were struggling to explain what may have happened.
Was it the sun? Right field in Fenway at dusk can be a nightmare for any outfielder. Just ask Lou Pinella.
Did Myers think Desmond Jennings called him off? Jennings had been casually jogging towards right center and was a good fifteen feet away from Myers at the time the ball landed. It appeared Jennings did everything possible, short of jumping into the Red Sox bullpen, to let Myers know it was his ball.
Did perhaps someone in the crowd or the Red Sox bullpen scream "I got it!"? Always a possibility, especially if your name is Alex Rodriguez.
Give Wil Myers credit, though. He didn't blame anyone but himself.
"That was totally my fault," Myers said after the game.
From all accounts, Myers faced the music after the game. He fielded all questions from reporters better than he fielded the fly ball by Ortiz.
He also had to listen to the Fenway crowd ride him the rest of the game. The chant of "My-errrrs" (I don't know if fans realized how clever the chant was) could be heard loudly for the next five-plus innings.
No one knows what the outcome of the game would have been had Myers made the catch. Matt Moore had been flirting with disaster prior to that point. His stuff didn't look as sharp as it had in the first two months of the season when he started out 8-0. His pitch count was already mounting.
But the Myers miscue opened the flood gates for sure. There was no stopping the Red Sox after that. The Red Sox would go on to score five runs in the inning. The wind had come out of Tampa's sails. The once subdued Fenway crowd had awoken now that they found a vulnerable link they could focus their attention on. The Red Sox would score more. The Rays wouldn't. The final score would be 12-2.
It was a far bigger win for the Red Sox than it would have been for the Rays. Best-of-five game series leave little margin for error, especially when David Price is waiting in the second game. The key for the Red Sox will be to avoid letting this series go to five games because, again, Price would await them there. It would behoove them to get this series done as quickly as possible.
And if the Red Sox do go on to win the World Series in 2013, years from now fans may very well be telling their children and grandchildren about the Wil Myers gaffe that propelled them to the championship.