At just under three hours, yesterday’s game was almost half the length as Saturday’s. So it took us about half the time to get the same result: a win. I’ll take a win any day no matter how long it takes; I’m just saying there’s a big difference between five hours and fifteen minutes and two hours and fifty minutes, and I’m glad the team didn’t have to work too long following that epic struggle.
Lackey made his first start since going on the DL. He wasn’t terribly efficient, but I’ll be chalking that up to him having not pitched since May 11. He threw ninety-three pitches in five and two-thirds innings. He gave up three runs on three hits, including a solo shot to lead off the third inning, and he walked two and struck out two. None of his pitches really screamed put-away with the exceptions of his slider and cutter, and he hit three batters which is a sure-fire sign of the absence of command, but he got by just fine. All in all, I’d call it a heartening performance.
With a southpaw on the mound for Oakland, you can see why I may have been bracing myself for another long night. It was unclear how well Lackey could be expected to pitch and how well our offense could be expected to perform. Ironically enough, it was the left-handed hitters who basically carried the team. With nobody out in the second inning, Crawford unleashed on his very first pitch of the game, an eighty-mile-per-hour slider, and sent it into the bullpen in a hurry. It was just a straight shot from home plate. Brett Anderson wanted it away. Man, did he miss.
Not to be outdone by his teammate’s performance, with two out and one on Gonzalez took the second pitch of his at-bat, this one a two-seam, and crushed it into the Monster seats. An opposite field home run by a lefty off a lefty.
Pedroia singled in our last run of the day in the sixth.
So it was pretty straight-forward. We turned in twice as many hits as they did. The lefties powered it up, with a little help and heavy-hitting from the righties. Gonzalez leads the Majors in RBIs and with his next RBI he will officially equal half his season total last year in a span, and it’s only been fifty-nine games. Pedroia went two for three, and Salty and Papi both went three for four. Salty hit his first triple of the season and the second of his career, and Papi thereby extended his hitting streak to ten games and collected three hits off of a southpaw for the ninth time in his career. The bullpen turned in another stellar outing, holding the A’s scoreless for the rest of the game. The final score was 6-3. We swept the series, scoring twenty-three runs. We’re one game out of first and three games ahead of Tampa Bay in third. We’ll have a chance to seize first place for ourselves starting on Tuesday when we go to New York. We have an off day tomorrow to take a break and get our heads in the game. Right about now, I’d say life is pretty good.