This was an epic week. It was an epic, epic week.
Last Saturday, we bested the Other Sox in a big way. Peavy pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four; Breslow pitched the eighth, and Britton pitched the ninth. Those two runs were the result of a single-force out combination in the third and a single-single combination in the fourth. But we scored more. In the first, Ellsbury singled and scored on a single by Napoli. Napoli and Gomes hit back-to-back doubles in the third. And two singles, a double, two groundouts, and another single yielded another three runs in the fourth. Gomes singled and scored on a single by Bogaerts in the fifth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the sixth, and a wild pitch brought in the game’s last run for a final score of 7-2.
We managed to walk away with a win last Sunday as well. Doubront gave up four runs on seven hits in less than four innings of work, and the rest of the game was pitched by Workman, who got the win, as well as Morales, Tazawa, Breslow, and Uehara, who got the save. Workman and Breslow each allowed one run of their own, but fortunately, yet again we scored more. Carp singled, Salty walked, and both scored on a single by Ellsbury in the second; Victorino and Pedroia both walked, and Ellsbury and Victorino scored on a double by Papi. Drew hit a solo shot in the third. And Ellsbury walked and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fourth with a little help from a throwing error.
We began our series with Detroit on Monday with a loss, which was unfortunate because Lackey pitched really well, giving up only three runs in over seven innings of work. We lost because we got shut out. Again. It was just one of those days where good pitching happened to coincide with bad, or in this case nonexistent, hitting.
Tuesday’s game went a lot better; good pitching coincided with good pitching, and a lack of hitting coincided with a lack of hitting, but we did that much better to pull it off. Specifically, we did one run better, winning by a final score of 2-1. The game was literally won in the fifth inning, when Gomes singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Middlebrooks. Lester gave up only one run in seven innings, and the relief corps, featuring appearances by four pitchers, held it together.
But I have to say that the highlight of this past week was unquestionably our epic victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, during which we scored a whopping twenty runs. That’s right. We won by a score of 20-4. Let me repeat that. We won by a score of 20-4. Wow. With that run total alone, we could have won every game for at least a week. Dempster started that one and gave up those four runs in his six innings; Workman, Morales, and De La Rosa each pitched an inning after that. But that offensive performance was supremely epic. Epic, epic, epic. The only member of the starting lineup not to have gotten at least one hit was Pedroia, and even he managed to bat in a run. We put twenty-five base runners on the field that day, and only five did not step on home plate. The only inning in which we didn’t score was the first. In the second, Nava singled and Drew homered. In the third, Ellsbury homered. Papi led off the fourth with a homer. Victorino singled and scored on Pedroia’s sac fly in the fifth. And then came the sixth, which was one of the biggest and most massive innings I have ever seen. We scored eight runs in the sixth inning alone; that’s more than we’ve scored in some games and even over the course of several games combined. It was absolutely amazing. First, Nava walked, Napoli doubled, and Drew walked intentionally to load the bases with nobody out. Then Carp came in to pinch-hit and ended up walking, which scored a run. Then Detroit made a pitching change, and Middlebrooks proceeded to welcome the new pitcher to the game by going hard on the second pitch of the at-bat for a grand slam. Yeah. A grand slam. Like I said, it was epic. Then Ellsbury struck out, Victorino got hit, Pedroia struck out, Papi doubled in another run, and Nava’s homer accounted for another two. Like I said, it was epic. We followed our eight-run sixth with a five-run seventh. Drew doubled, and then Middlebrooks was awarded the home run that he deserved after a review. Then Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a single by Quintin Berry, who came in to pinch-run for Victorino in the previous inning. And then Papi homered for another two runs. And then Napoli led off the eighth with a homer. Those eight home runs in a single game, a feat previously achieved in 1977, tied a club record. It was the first time any team had done it since 2010. (Interestingly, we played the Blue Jays in that ’77 game, and it was the Blue Jays who did it in 2010.) It was also a banner day for Papi, who collected his two thousandth hit in the process and who deserved every second of the standing ovation that he received. He also passed Billy Williams for forty-seventh on the all-time homer list.
We carried that offensive momentum with us right into our next win. We started our series with the Evil Empire on Thursday, and the final score was 9-8. Peavy gave up four runs in six innings, Thornton gave up another two, and Tazawa blew his save by giving up another two. Then Breslow was awarded the win, and Uehara was awarded the save. We needed ten innings to get it done, but the fact that we got it done was the greatest part. Lavarnway and Middlebrooks led off the third with a pair of singles, and Lavarnway scored on a double by Ellsbury while Middlebrooks scored on a groundout by Victorino. Middlebrooks homered in the fourth. Victorino led off the fifth with a homer; then, Pedroia, Papi, and Nava loaded the bases with nobody out with two singles and a walk. Pedroia scored on a single by Napoli, and Papi scored on a force out by Lavarnway. Nava doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway in the seventh. The bottom of the seventh was an enormous mess, during which the blown save occurred; fortunately, with two out in the ninth, Napoli singled and scored on a single by Drew. With one out in the tenth, Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored the winning run on a single by Victorino.
The same good things can be said about Friday’s game, which, thanks in large part to the Yankees’ bullpen, we won, 9-8. Doubront himself actually gave up six runs on six walks and three hits, one of which was a home run. But our bullpen held it together. Meanwhile, Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a single by David Ross. Napoli led off the fourth with a double and scored on a groundout by Drew. Middlebrooks led off the fifth with a solo shot. And then we scored another five runs in the seventh inning alone, during which the Yanks went through three pitching changes. Ross singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Victorino singled, and Carp walked to load the bases. Pedroia singled in Ross, which kept the bases loaded, and after Papi struck out, Napoli worked the count full after receiving seven pitches but went yard in a huge way on the eighth pitch, delivering an enormously massive grand slam. I can’t even describe the awesomeness of it all. And we weren’t even done. With one out in the eighth, Middlebrooks singled and then Victorino homered them both in. Carp singled, Pedroia grounded out, and Papi and Napoli each walked. Nava walked in one run, and Drew singled in another.
Yesterday, we enjoyed yet another high scoring performance, winning 13-9. Lackey lasted less than six innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits, and then Britton, one of four relievers that we had to sent out, allowed two runs of his own. But, in keeping with the week’s theme, we scored more. Papi led off the second with a double, and Napoli followed with a home run. Bogaerts led off the third with a double, Victorino got hit, and then it was Gomes who homered. We had four straight scoring plays in the fourth, after Middlebrooks and Bradley led it off with two singles: Lavarnway doubled, Bogaerts grounded out, Victorino doubled, and Gomes singled. And then Pedroia doubled and Papi hit a sac fly. Each of those scoring plays accounted for one run. Bradley walked in the fifth, and one out later, Bogaerts hit a two-run shot. And then Napoli homered in the ninth.
We played very well yesterday also, but it wasn’t good enough. This one was evenly matched, but the wrong team came out on top. Lester turned in a quality start, giving up only three runs over the course of eight innings. But they just scored one more run than we did. Papi and Carp led off the second with back-to-back doubles that accounted for our first run, and Papi doubled and scored on Salty’s groundout in the sixth. And then Middlebrooks delivered in a big way, smacking a game-tying solo shot to lead off the ninth. But Workman’s not-so-excellent work in the bottom of the inning did us in. He looked great at first, but between the first two outs of the frame, he allowed a single, which became important when he issued a wild pitch that brought the runner in. And so we lost, 4-3.
And, as if our awesome performances were not awesome enough, we find ourselves in first place in the AL East, eight and a half games above Tampa Bay. (The Yankees, might I add, are eleven games out of first, which is good for fourth in our division, and at this moment, they are not even in the running for the Wild Card.) We also have the best winning percentage in the entire Major Leagues. And that’s a great place to be.
In other news, the Patriots played the first regular-season game of the year yesterday! We beat the Bills, 23-21, in a real nailbiter that went right down to the wire. We went 3-1 in preseason, beating the Eagles, 31-22, and then the Buccaneers, 25-21, and after losing to the Lions, 40-9, which was especially scathing, we beat the Giants, 28-20.
Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis
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