Well before Christian Vazquez walked it off for the Red Sox in thrilling fashion on Sunday night, Kyle Schwarber had quite the memorable sequence in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays at Fenway Park.
He later reminded everyone about the kind of endearing personality he possesses that has quickly made him a fan favorite in Boston.
“You’ve got to be able to make fun of yourself every once in a while and loosen the situation up,” Schwarber said following Boston’s 6-4 win over Tampa Bay in 13 innings.
Going back to the third inning Sunday, with the Rays in front by a score of 2-1, Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi got leadoff man Brandon Lowe to dribble a softly-hit groundball in the direction of Schwarber at first base.
Schwarber, in turn, fielded the ball cleanly, but overthrew Eovaldi on his underhand flip back to the first-base bag, which allowed Lowe to reach base safely.
An inning later, after Boston had taken a 3-2 lead, Schwarber found himself in a similar position when Ji-Man Choi led off the top half of the fourth by hitting another groundball towards him.
This time, however, the relatively inexperienced first baseman was able to hit Eovlaid in stride and successfully make an accurate, underhand flip to get Choi out at first base.
Upon recording what would normally be regarded as a routine out, Schwarber broke out into a celebration in which he pointed to the sky with both hands and pumped his right fist before tipping his cap to the Fenway faithful.
“That was awesome,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “That’s who they are. That’s what we do. Of course we wanted to make the first play, and after that he makes the play, and everyone was excited because he did it. He did what he did, and I think it was great. Sometimes we take this game too seriously, and you can actually not enjoy it. … Although we take it seriously, we also have fun with it.”
Leading up to Sunday’s contest, Schwarber had made just nine regular season starts and postseason start at first base after the Red Sox acquired him in a trade with the Nationals in late July.
The 28-year-old primarily played left field in his time with the Nationals and acknowledged that he still has room to improve at first base — a position he is learning on the fly, though he did show some gratitude towards Eovaldi for helping him out.
“Obviously being new over there at first base, you make the error, and Nate picks you up,” Schwarber said. “Unbelievable job by Nate. You go out there and make the good, old routine play and loosen it up a little bit.”
As Cora alluded to, Schwarber is someone who can have fun doing what he does while also understanding the importance of the moment, as he went 3-for-5 with a home run, one RBI, and two runs scored as part of Sunday’s win that gave the Sox a two-games-to-one edge in this best-of-five ALDS.
“You’ve got to be able to make fun of yourself,” said Schwarber. “It was a good time. I think I got a laugh out of pretty much almost everyone. It’s a game. Like you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself.”
(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)