The series finale was rained out, so we played a doubleheader yesterday. I like doubleheaders. Anyone who loves baseball would love a day when baseball is played almost continuously. Not great for the team, but good for the fan. Doubleheaders as a rule are almost never scheduled in advance, so rare indeed is the opportunity to see one.
Buchholz started it off and wasn’t at his best. Six innings, three runs on six hits, a walk, and two K’s on ninety-eight pitches, sixty-three for strikes. With that pitch count, he should have gone another inning. What that means is that he allowed himself to be worked out of pitcher’s counts a little bit. And two of the runs he allowed came via solo shot, both on changeups. By the time he left, the game was tied at three.
Ellsbury had doubled to start the game, stole third, and scored on a fly ball by Gonzalez. In the second, Cameron homered into the bullpen in left. It was his third homer of the season, and all of them have come against southpaws. It was a breaking ball that didn’t break. Pedroia led off the third by also homering into the bullpen in left. He jumped on a changeup. It was a laser all the way.
Nobody scored in the seventh. Nobody scored in the eighth. Drew started the ninth by flying out. Then Papi worked the count full. On the seventh pitch, Papi walloped one into the first few rows of seats in center field. He has officially hit nothing but home runs off of Jose Valverde. (I mean, he’s two for two with two homers, but still.) It was a fastball right down the middle. There was no way he wasn’t going to blast it out of the yard.
The final score was 4-3. Albers pitched the seventh and eighth and got the win; Paps pitched the ninth and picked up his tenth save of the year. Lowrie went two for four. Cameron went a perfect two for two. And we stole four bases, one each for Youk and Ellsbury and two for Pedroia. And let me tell you, it was nice to be the ones running for a change.
The nightcap didn’t go so well. Beckett, for his part, did almost everything he was supposed to do. He pitched six innings, gave up two runs on five hits, walked five, and struck out five. That walk total ties a season high. He threw 107 pitches, sixty-five for strikes. In the first inning alone, he gave up both of his runs and threw twenty-six pitches. Clearly he was inefficient. When you’re in the midst of a pitcher’s duel, it’s really, really bad to be inefficient because it means that you’ll throw more pitches, thus giving the opponent more of a look at you and generally tiring you out. And you’ll be taken out before your opponent, which means that no matter how on you are, you won’t do your team any good because you’ll be out of the game when it matters most. Hill pitched a good seventh. Atchison gave up another run in the eighth. But Beckett took the loss because he was outdueled. As far as our offense was concerned, there was none. We were shut out. We only had five opportunities with runners in scoring position and did nothing with them. The most important came in the eighth inning. Ellsbury walked to put runners at the corners with two out, and all Pedroia could muster was a flyout. The only extra base hit was a double that belonged to Tek; in total, the team managed only four hits. We lost, 3-0.
At least now we get to go home again. We finished this stint on the road with a record of five and two. Not bad at all. But it’ll be good to be back.