Hero from the Shadows: Postseason Version

October 03, 2008 - 11:05 am

The short-series format lends itself to all kinds of fascinating anomalies. The better team does not always win, and the best players do not always perform to their reputations. The flip side of that coin is that players have an opportunity to emerge from relative obscurity to assume momentary prominence.  Just a year ago, the Red Sox World Series clincher was won by Jon Lester (a pitcher who didn't even know if he would make the postseason roster), with a key insurance run (that ultimately proved necessary in a 4-3 win) provided by a homer from Ronnie Mac himself, Bobby Kielty.  Today, the Sox will confer opportunities on a couple of role players with a unique opportunity to assume a sudden degree of prominence. Mark Kotsay--who has played first base six times since the Sox acquired him in mid-August, or as many times as he had played it from 2000-2007--gets the start at first base tonight. The left-handed hitter, who laced an inside-the-park homer past a diving Torii Hunter against the Twins in the 2006 Division Series, has a .389 average, .450 OBP and .950 OPS in 20 career plate appearances against Angels Game 2 starter Ervin Santana.  With a right-hander on the hill, the Sox also decided to sit Jed Lowrie (.222/.308/.344/.653 against righties) in favor of Alex Cora. As a part-time shortstop this year, Cora matched a career high with a .371 OBP. That mark ranked second in the American League among shortstops with at least 150 plate appearances.  Those two now have a chance to forge an indelible memory of their time in Boston. Such is the power of the postseason, when the spotlight offers the potential to leave a legacy.