"To throw a kid in a game where every game is important, the way he handled it gave us a boost," said manager Terry Francona.
Monday night was Cash's second Major League game at catcher and with it, a big responsibility. Boston's lead over the Yankees in the American League East had dwindled to just four games, making every outing essential. Toeing the rubber was knuckleball artist Tim Wakefield, who'd never lost in Tropicana Field.
Three of the first four pitches delivered caromed off Cash's glove and another skipped past him completely, never a good omen.
"[The first inning was] no fun," said Cash, who had caught knuckleballer Charlie Zink at Triple-A Pawtucket. "I would be lying if I said I wasn't rattled with what was going on, because I hadn't done that in the Minor Leagues. But I shook it off. The guy didn't score from third, so I came in smiling, made some joke and tried to relax."
Cash collected himself between innings and after that, the tricky knuckleballs landed where they were supposed to -- smack in the mitt. He even gunned down a potential steal attempt at second base.
Francona was very pleased, if not a touch surprised, at Cash's attitude in the dugout after that rocky first frame.
"Besides the obvious -- running the game and staying with Wake -- I thought his demeanor in the dugout was real good," Francona said. "When he came off of the field after the first inning, it was like, 'I'll handle this.'
"It was kind of contagious. ... He wasn't on pins and needles, so I didn't think we should be either. I think we enjoyed what he brought."
Cash's big game came at the perfect time, too. Promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket last week to help Boston's pennant race hopes after Mirabelli went on the 15-day disabled list, Cash grew up in the Tampa, Fla., area and had plenty of family and friends in the crowd to cheer him on.
"I think Cashie got more comfortable as the game progressed," Francona said. "There are some intangibles that are important [when catching knuckleball pitches]. Having soft hands is probably relatively important. Having the ability to shake off some frustration and not let it make you tighter is probably pretty important."
So far, Cash is 2-for-2.
Riding in style: David Ortiz is selling his wheels on eBay, and although Francona conceded Big Papi had put a nice car up for auction, the manager isn't planning to submit a bid on the 2005 Mercedes any time soon.
"My guess is I'll pass," Francona said of the car with the starting bid of $169,000. "Count me out."
"I'm not a car aficionado. I'm selling my used SUV to [Red Sox director of performance enhancement] Don Kalkstein, and the reason he wants it so bad is because he knows it's never gone over 60 mph."
The auction, which ends just before 9 p.m. ET on Thursday and had three bidders as of 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, claims the Mercedes was Ortiz's present to himself after the 2004 World Series, and that it has just over 4,000 miles on it because it was used solely as the slugger's transportation to and from Fenway Park.
Ortiz will hand-deliver the car to the winning bidder at Fenway Park.
Walking wounded: Mirabelli will re-join the team on its road trip this week, either in Chicago or New York, Francona said. Mirabelli still wears a walking boot to protect his strained right calf and was left behind in Boston as the team hit the road.
"The reason we left him back is because he is not able to do baseball-related stuff," said Francona, of his 36-year-old catcher. "But once he can start doing that and gets closer, we'll bring him with us."
A done deal: The Red Sox on Tuesday acquired infielder/outfielder Chris Carter from the Nationals as the player to be named to complete Friday's trade of Wily Mo Pena.
Carter is a left-handed-hitting first baseman who comes from Triple-A Tucson to Boston. Carter hit .324 there with 18 homers and 84 RBIs in 126 games this season. Prior to the trade, he led the Pacific Coast League in hits (163), was tied for second in doubles (39), ranked fifth in batting and ninth in RBIs.
Carter was assigned to Pawtucket. The 24-year-old came to Boston immediately after he was acquired by Washington from Arizona for right-hander Emiliano Fruto.
Here's the question: Jonathan Papelbon is one save shy of becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to have at least 30 saves in two different seasons. There have only been three pitchers in Majors history to notch at least 30 saves in their first two full seasons. Can you name them?
Down on the farm: George Kottaras had two home runs, a single and three RBIs but Pawtucket dropped an 8-6 decision to Syracuse on Monday night, ending the Chiefs' 10-game losing streak. ... Double-A Portland's lead for the second playoff spot dropped to one game with the Sea Dogs' fourth loss in as many games, this one a 6-2 defeat to Binghamton.
And the answer is: Billy Koch recorded 30 saves for his first four years (1999-2002) with the Jays and A's, while Seattle's Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000-02) and Todd Worrell (1986-88) of the Cardinals each did it during their first three seasons.
Up next: The Red Sox wrap up a three-game series at Tropicana Field on Wednesday with a 7:10 p.m. game against the Rays. Boston will send right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka (13-9, 3.79 ERA) to the mound, where he'll face off against Tampa Bay righty Edwin Jackson (3-12, 5.69).
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.