Raise your hand if, before the season started, you guessed Daniel Nava and Scott Podsednik would lead the Boston Red Sox to a victory.
Buried in the minors less than a month ago and called up to bolster a team that has seven outfielders on the disabled list, Nava and Podsednik launched solo homers Wednesday in a 6-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
"We had guys down, but our management has done a good job to get us guys who can come in, step in and do the job," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, forced to move to right field because of all the injuries. "Scottie got the game-winning home run today. Those things are huge. For us to be able to have another experienced guy out there is huge."
How unlikely a hero was Podsednik?
Sent to Class AAA by the Philadelphia Phillies after spring training, the 10-year major league veteran was sold to the Red Sox on May 11 and called up Tuesday from Class AAA Pawtucket when outfielders Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney went on the disabled list. He made his first major league start since Sept. 9, 2010 for the Los Angeles Dodgers and hit his first homer since Sept. 6 of that season in the eighth inning to give the Red Sox a 6-4 lead.
"It's good to be back in the big leagues," Podsednik said. "I got a pitch up, an offspeed pitch up, and I put a pretty good swing on it."
Chances are Podsednik will continue to play center field when the Red Sox face a right-handed pitcher (Marlon Byrd figures to play against lefties). But when Sweeney returns from a concussion, likely by early next week, Podsednik knows his future may grow cloudy again.
"That kind of remains to be seen," he said. "I'm sure I'll be plugged in in different situations, so it's up to me just to stay ready and come in and help the club wherever and whenever I'm needed."
Nava had fallen so far on the Red Sox' depth chart since hitting a grand slam on the first pitch of his major league career in 2010 that he wasn't invited to big league camp this year. Manager Bobby Valentine barely knew him during spring training. Now, he's hard-pressed to remove Nava from the lineup.
And in the sixth inning, Nava busted a 2-2 tie by taking Orioles starter Jake Arrieta deep to right field. It marked his second homer in only 26 at-bats after he had gone 171 at-bats (and nearly two years) between homers.
"There's not pressure for us to have to step in and be the guy because of our lineup and because of what they can do," Nava said. "And that allows you to play your game and not try to do too much. When you're able to simplify it, you give yourself a better chance to succeed."