Well, that’s fun. It’s nice to win the day after you’re statistically eliminated from playoff contention. It’s not like we needed all the wins we could get before that.
If I sound bitter and annoyed, it’s because I am. Who wants to be eliminated from the playoffs? Still, I guess if the choice on any given day is winning or losing, I’ll take winning whenever I can get it.
Cook pitched a gem. It was a short gem, since I usually picture gems as being great starts that last long, but it was a gem nonetheless. He allowed one run on five hits over six innings while walking one and striking out one. He gave up a single in the first and fourth; his one bad inning was the fifth, but if every single one of our pitchers had a bad inning that looked like this one, we’d be in fantastic shape. With one out and two on, he gave up a sac bunt that scored one. Then we caught a thief in the act, so Cook’s only walk didn’t load the bases. And he ended the inning after that. He went one-two-three in the sixth to finish up.
Hill pitched the seventh, Tazawa pitched the eighth, and Melancon pitched the ninth. Melancon allowed the second and final Rays run, so he’s extremely lucky that we had already put ourselves in a position to win. Otherwise that would have been crushing. He gave up a single that could have been a triple thanks to defensive indifference and a wild pitch. And then he gave up a groundout that brought the runner in.
Meanwhile, we were being no-hit through five. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Salty’s walk in the second, we would have been the victims of a bid for a perfect game. But as is often the case, when a pitcher pitching that well suddenly falters, the gates open and there is an opportunity to make him pay dearly for having almost humiliated you tremendously. In our case last night, we didn’t exactly go off on a slugging rampage, but we scored enough runs to get the job done.
The sixth began innocently enough for the Rays with Podsednik striking out. But then Iglesias got hit and moved to second on a groundout by Ciriaco and then third on a wild pitch. But it turned out that he didn’t need to go all the way around. All he’d had to do was get on base and wait. Because Ellsbury went yard. The count was 3-1, and it was a four-seam fastball. And he was all over it. He sent it beyond the right field fence. And just like that, we had a one-run lead. But it was about to get bigger.
Pedroia walked after that, stole second, and moved to third on a passed ball, but Ross ended the inning with a strikeout. Thankfully, we managed to continue our rally in the seventh. We didn’t waste any time, either. Loney singled, Salty walked, and Lavarnway reached on a force attempt combined with a fielding error to load the bases. Gomez pinch-hit for Podsednik and singled in two runs. Nava pinch-ran for Gomez, and he and Lavarnway both moved over on a sac bunt by Iglesias. Ciriaco intentionally walked to reload the bases. And then Ellsbury singled in one more run.
And that was the end for us, so the final score was 5-2. Am I annoyed that we couldn’t have done more with the bases loaded? Absolutely. But a win is a win no matter how you get it, and we should at least be thankful for that. We can be thankful for Ellsbury firmly finding his stride at the plate again, even though it’s a little late, and we can be thankful for contributing to keeping the Rays out of October. In our position, we’ve got to find silver linings somewhere.