Quite literally, it was an evening of milestones and breakout performances. It’s funny how there are players on our roster who we don’t really get to know as well as some others until that one big game when we remember how much of an asset they are. I would say that David Ross is such a player. We acquired him due to his awesome skills as a backup catcher. But offense-wise, there were probably many people who, around Spring Training, were thinking of him as just the other Ross. I’m pretty sure that that will no longer be a problem.
We scored in each of the first five innings. Ellsbury hit a deflected single to open the first and scored on a double by Pedroia. With two out in the second, Ross went way deep. Like, beyond the Monster deep. Get-a-ninety-two-mile-per-hour-two-seam-and-crush-it deep. Put-us-on-top-by-two deep.
Pedroia doubled off the Monster and scored on a double by Napoli in the third. And then the fourth happened, and it was awesome. Middlebrooks and Ross smacked back-to-back jacks. Middlebrooks’s at-bat was a real battle. He took his first three pitches for balls, took the fourth for a strike, and then fouled off the others until he got one he liked. A lot. It was a changeup, and it found its way beyond the Monster in no time. And then Ross took two balls and gave a repeat performance. It was epic. You see something like that, and you do a complete double-take. Actually, in this particular instance, you do two double-takes. First you think you might be seeing a replay of Middlebrooks’s home run. Then you realize it’s Ross at the bat, so you think you might be seeing a replay of Ross’s earlier home run. And by the time he’s taking his own sweet time to round first, you realize that it’s the real deal and you just scored two runs on two swings.
Pedroia grounded out to start off the fifth. And then Papi wanted in. On a 2-2 count, he got a four-seam clocked at ninety-four that was basically a straight shot to the plate. Big mistake. Yet again, he let the ball find the deepest part of the park. It was his second homer in as many days. This one just barely got out, but out is out. And even though we didn’t score in the sixth, it’s of course worth mentioning that Ellsbury stole his two hundredth base. That total puts him in heady Sox company; he’s the third since Harry Hooper and Tris Speaker did it, and he’s leading the Majors with eleven so far.
And just in case we needed a little extra, we added some insurance in the eighth. Middlebrooks, Ross, and Ciriaco hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases with nobody out. Unfortunately, Ellsbury lined into a double play, but Ross did score on a single by Gomes. Napoli has set two club records for this month, which by the way isn’t even over yet; his seventeen extra-base hits and twelve doubles are both monster stats for April. Ross was officially the man of the hour with the two homers as well as the first four-hit performance of his career.
Dempster, who’s been an unfortunate stranger to run support until yesterday, held down the fort from the mound. Two runs on four hits while walking three and, taking a page from Buchholz’s book, striking out ten over six innings. He gave up a double to lead off the third, which turned into a run on a groundout. He gave up another double to lead off the fifth, which turned into a run on a sac fly, which itself could have been trouble had it not been for Gomes’s phenomenal diving catch in the classic Ellsbury style.
Anyway, let’s talk about his K’s. There were the two swinging strikes in the first, one ending with a four-seam and the other ending with a slider. Then there were the two that began the second, both ending with sliders. There were the two in the fourth, one swinging on a splitter and the other looking on a four-seam. There was the one in the fifth, ending with a swing on a splitter. And last but not least, there were the two in the sixth, one swinging on a slider and the other looking on a slider and requiring all of three pitches.
Mortensen came in for the seventh. He hit a batter and gave up a single made worse when Napoli missed a catch. He finally recorded the first out of the inning, but Tazawa came in after that. He gave up a sac fly that allowed one of his inherited runners to score. And then he gave up a single of his own before ending the inning. Uehara pitched the eighth, and Wilson pitched the ninth. The final score was 7-3. All in all, I’d say it went well.