The Mayor of Ding Dong City aka 1B Travis Shaw sent Red Sox fans into hysteria on Monday afternoon in just his 2nd game since returning to the city he loves and that loves him. His 11th inning walk-off grand slam capped a odd few final innings of baseball and sent the scant Fenway crowd home happy in the series finale with the Texas Rangers. Forget the fact that the game should not have gone into extras to begin with and it was against one of the worst teams in baseball, it was a spark in a season currently lacking any electricity.
Along with thousands of others, I am desperately waiting for the moment in which members of this Red Sox team realize that they are still in playoff contention (somehow) and a shift in momentum and fortune could lead them to 92-94 wins and a wild card spot. There have been some signs lately of a potential turnaround, but as a group, they can’t seem to put it all together and return to the form they had the first 3.5 months of the season. Despite a number of frustrations including a blown save by P Matt Barnes and the need to comeback from 1-run down in the 10th to even force an 11th inning, the feel-good story of a walk-off grand slam from the newly acquired and infinitely struggling Shaw may be that kick they need.
Shaw was a beloved and universally respected member of the Red Sox during his 2 years with the club in 2015 and 2016. Teammates, media, and fans alike enjoyed his kind demeanor and when he was traded for P Tyler Thornburg in late 2016, it was a sad day. To make things worse, Thornburg had a 6.54 ERA in his time with the Red Sox only making 41 appearances over 2 years. Unfortunately for Shaw, after 2 good years with the Milwaukee Brewers, he hasn’t been able to get back on track and make any meaningful contribution in the majors. After 3 years in Milwaukee, Shaw spent a year with the Toronto Blue Jays before returning to the Brewers and being waived this past week.
No one expects Shaw to roll into Boston and be a huge difference maker that changes every game with his bat or defense. He was waived for a reason and was added mostly as an insurance/depth piece with the incredible struggles at 1B on the team, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute both on and off the field. Honestly, today’s grand slam was more than I expected from him in his return and it’s only game 2. If the Red Sox do make the postseason, Shaw certainly has the experience and success to help out (.278 with 1 HR in 41 PAs over 13 career postseason games) if he were to make the roster.
What will be interesting to watch is if Shaw can right-the-ship, so to speak, with the system, and in the city, he started his career. If he can finish the year strong, maybe he earns another major league deal and can steer his career back onto the highway (or at least a side road). At 31 years old his prime years may be over, but there is probably gas left in the tank. Maybe even the return of his power leading to an extension in Boston. One can dream, right?