When Mike Napoli smacked an unnecessary homer into deep-center on Friday night, it swiped a save opportunity away from Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara.
Considering all the uncertainty and frustration surrounding Boston’s closer situation this year–the one weak link–and the fact that Uehara had converted on 4 of his last 6 save chances, just an addition to a stat total would be immensely beneficial to an area desperate for hope. Confidence in the closer role–whether in the eyes of manager John Farrell or Uehara himself–is not necessarily wholly defined by a simple change in a statistical category: quality of performance, which cannot be factually measured, is always more telling. Yet the Achilles’ Heel that is the reliever corps for the Red Sox must seek a boost from any way possible, even if that means attentiveness towards the boxscore.
So when Napoli increased Boston’ lead to 4 runs, the opportunity for recording a save flew out of the window for Uehara. But if to further abide by this path of scratching out confidence, the home run may be more a blessing in disguise, despite eliminating a potential “lift” for Uehara.
After batting in runs like no other hitter in the AL, and eclipsing any expectations set forth in the preseason, Napoli has undoubtedly experienced a slump in the last few weeks. The 440 ft bomb to center against the Angels marked his first homer since June 1st, comprising a drought for the slugger that lasted over a month. Nearly all his major statistical numbers have endured a steady decline from a month-to-month basis as well.
Yet as we see too much in sports, an insignificant occurrence such as blasting a home run that merely stretched a lead by one run, could serve as an essential boost in confidence–one lift that Napoli could use to build upon, and revitalize his sinking 2013 season.
In conclusion, while a chance to augment confidence in one area may be lost for the time being, an opportunity taken in another dimension may prove valuable beyond a statistical measurement.