BALTIMORE — Forget the American League Manager of the Year award. Bobby Valentine should be honored by the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
The Red Sox beat the Orioles, 6-5, Wednesday with a lineup that included a bottom three of Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, and Kelly Shoppach.
Nava and Podsednik were not in the majors last season and Shoppach hit .176 for the Rays.
They were 6 for 9 with four runs and four RBIs. Each hit a home run.
The Red Sox hadn’t had the last three hitters each homer in a game since Aug. 3, 2003, when Trot Nixon, Bill Mueller, and Doug Mirabelli did it, also at Camden Yards.
Nava’s home run came with two outs in the sixth and gave the Sox a 3-2 lead. Podsednik then singled and scored on a home run by Shoppach to left field. Podsednik later homered in the eighth inning and it proved crucial.
Valentine also got another save out of Alfredo Aceves, the closer who never pitched in relief in spring training.
That’s 10 victories in the last 13 games for Red Sox, who are 22-22 despite having 13 players on the disabled list. They were 5-3 on their road trip.
The Red Sox played for the 20th time in 20 days in five cities. They were 12-8.
“Amazing effort by a group of fabulous professionals who played through a lot of adversity -- time zones, weather, travel,” Valentine said. “They did one heck of a job winning the last two series. Going home at .500 is a feather in their cap.
Before the game, Valentine marveled at how the Sox have hung in there.
“I haven’t experienced these travel things and 20 days in row for a while and I couldn’t be more happy with the way the guys reacted to all this stuff,” Valentine said. “The schedule, the travel, the injuries, the weather. There’s been no complaining; guys going well beyond the call of duty. For me, it’s a great thing to see as a manager, the way they’ve really come together.”
The Sox have a day off on Thursday. Safe to say they earned it.
Then there’s this: the Red Sox ended Thursday a game and a half out of the wild card race and eventually will get a raft of talent back off the disabled list. It will be a challenge to keep winning with the current roster. But Valentine is proving he’s up to the challenge.