This was a win with which we can be thoroughly happy because there were no health issues to bring us down. I mean, there are health issues with which we must be concerned, but they weren’t connected to the game. Yes, the fact that Gonzalez was out of the lineup with a stiff neck is obviously worrisome, and yes, the fact that Lester has been placed on the DL could not be more disastrous or troubling. (Atchison was called up to take his roster spot, and the prediction is that he’ll be ready to go as soon as he’s eligible.) But technically those were news items that had nothing to do with the win. (Actually, that’s technically not entirely true. Youk moved to first, and Navarro took Gonzalez’s spot at third. Technically the game could have had a different outcome had he not been in the game. But I’m going to assume that, had Gonzalez played, he would have contributed even more positively than Navarro did. Given the outcome of the game, that would mean that the impact of Gonzalez would not have changed it.)
Wake was fantastic. He had his knuckleball going all the way. He gave up three runs on nine hits while walking only one and striking out seven, a season high, over seven full innings. He threw 106 pitches, seventy-six of which were strikes. So he threw a strike about seventy-two percent of the time. So he hit his spots (whatever that means for a knuckleball pitcher), and he was efficient, and he went deep into the game to give the middle relief corps some much-needed rest. Bard and Wheeler combined to pitch a scoreless eighth; Bard didn’t finish the inning because it was interrupted by a forty-minute rain delay. Paps almost blew it in the ninth.
The second pitch fired by Jays pitching went out of the yard. Ellsbury took Ricky Romero deep. He cleared the bullpen, too. His swing was huge. He got all of that fastball. This makes a career-high ten home runs on the season, and it’s far from over.
Youk did almost the exact same thing an inning later. He also led off the frame, and he received the same pitch at the same speed. He just hit the ball to left instead. He hit the ball into the first row of Monster seats. And he got all of his fastball, too.
We had some fun in the fourth; we put up a four-spot. After Papi and Youk made two not-so-easy outs, Drew doubled and scored on a single by McDonald. A single by Salty moved him to third, and he came around on a double by Navarro. Salty and Navarro both came around on a double by Ellsbury. Ellsbury and Youk both had fantastic nights; Ellsbury went three for five, and Youk went three for four, each with two doubles. All told, eight of the team’s eleven hits were for extra bases, and six of those eight were hit by either Ellsbury or Youk. Ellsbury, by the way, also stole third base. And let’s not forget his catch in the fifth inning. So what if the umpires revoked it because they called time? The catch was a phenomenal diving catch, one of those that only Ellsbury can pull off. He made the catch literally at the Monster. He was at the wall. He had nowhere else to go, and he still managed to leap and snare the ball. We got our second out anyway via the strikeout, but man, what a catch. He did it all last night.
Things got pretty hairy in the ninth. Paps came on. He struck out his first batter on six pitches but then hit his next one, who left the game. Paps struck out his next batter on three pitches but then gave up an RBI single. That brought the Jays within two and Red Sox Nation to the edge of their seats. Fortunately he was able to post another strikeout to nail down the save and close the game. The final score was 6-4. I could have done without the extra suspense of a rocky relief outing.
We are slowly but surely clawing our way back up the AL East ladder. For the first time this season, we are sixteen games over .500. We are only half a game out of first place. We have one more series before the All-Star break. We play the Orioles. By the time Papi takes his stance for the Home Run Derby, I want to be out in front of the Yankees once and for all.