Another action-packed, fun-filled night of slugging, scoring, and even brawling. Let the reliving begin.
The game started with Beckett and ended without him. He allowed three runs on seven hits while walking two, striking out three, and giving up a home run. He threw sixty-eight pitches, fifty for strikes. All of his pitches were great. Both fastballs, the changeup, the curveball, and the cutter were all working. He was extremely efficient right up until the fifth inning, when he threw twenty-eight pitches. He slipped a bit in the fifth, the grounds crew fixed the dirt, he finished the frame, and then he left the game after slightly hyperextending his knee. The good news is that it’s not serious and we still won. The bad news is that we literally can not afford any more injuries to anyone on our pitching staff at all. His departure from the game was strictly precautionary for precisely that reason, and he’s expected to appear in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. So those were four glorious innings and one not-so-glorious one.
After he came out, Albers, Wheeler, and Atchison came in. Beckett got the win; the three relievers didn’t allow a run in the rest of the game. Albers has allowed only one run in his last thirteen appearances, which amount to fourteen and a third innings. All three of them pitched very well on a night they arguably didn’t need to. The lineup gave them heaps of support.
We scored eight runs in the first inning. Eight runs in the first inning alone. When Baltimore went to bat for the second time in the game, they were already down by eight. We had thirteen baserunners that inning. That’s just absurd. I mean, it’s severely humiliating for Baltimore. But obviously for us it’s supremely awesome.
Ellsbury flied out to start it off. Pretty unceremonious. Then Pedroia singled, extending his hitting streak to ten games, and Gonzalez walked. Pedroia scored on a single by Youk. And then Papi walloped a three-run shot to right on the second pitch he saw, a fastball down and in. He unleashed just about all of his power on that ball. It was his fifth dinger opposite a lefty this year. It was a monstrous blast. There was not a shred of doubt as soon as that ball made contact with the bat that it was getting out of the park one way or another.
Then Tek walked and Scutaro singled; McDonald doubled them both in. Navarro provided the second out with a strikeout. Ellsbury brought in McDonald with a single. Baltimore made a much-needed pitching change. Pedroia reached on a fielding error, Gonzalez singled in Ellsbury, and Youk grounded out. Boom. Eight runs. No big deal.
Beckett allowed all three of his runs in the fifth. First came the solo shot to lead off the inning on a changeup that didn’t do much of anything. Then a three-pitch strikeout followed by a four-pitch walk and a flyout, and then two singles for the scoring plays.
We recovered two of those runs. Pedroia went yard on a high fastball to lead off the sixth. The ball bounced off the billboard above the Green Monster. Another extremely powerful swing. Another home run without a doubt. It was his second in two games and fourth in nine games. To this day, opposing pitchers still think they can blow the high fastball right by Pedroia, and it never, ever works. I don’t understand why they keep doing it.
As the finishing touch, Pedroia walked and scored on a triple by Reddick in the eighth. And then the fireworks began. Kevin Gregg had come on to pitch the inning for the O’s. Papi stepped up to the plate. Gregg fired three consecutive inside pitches. So he got annoyed and approached the mound and both benches cleared and both bullpens came in and both teams were warned. After order was restored, Papi flied out to center. As he made his way to first base, Gregg gestured to Papi and basically told him to run to first base. Really? Seriously? So Papi ran, all right. He charged the mound and Gregg very nearly punched him in the head Scutaro jumped on Gregg’s back and the teams emptied out onto the field again and there was an all-out, no-holds-barred brawl. Home plate umpire Mike Estabrook had ejected Gregg, Papi, Salty, and O’s reliever Jim Johnson. “Wow” is all I have to say about that. Nobody can say now that Papi doesn’t know how to hustle. Gregg later claimed that the ethics of the game dictate that when you fly out you hustle along the basepaths. How many times have we seen hitters from every time do the exact opposite? As Beckett said, you can’t just incite a brawl because you’re cranky that your team is in last place.
More good news: A-Rod withdrew from the All-Star Game with a knee issue, so Youk will replace him! This is his third bid. If you ask me, it’s a perfect switch. Of course there’s always a debate about how you define an all-star, but there are plenty of reasons why Youk deserved to be there all along.
The final score was a wonderfully lopsided 10-3. We had fewer home runs last night than we did on Thursday, but we scored more runs. Clearly, what Beckett lacked in pitching efficiency, the lineup more than compensated for in scoring efficiency. We won in a big way, and we expanded our first-place lead (the Yankees were rained out). It was certainly one interesting and entertaining game. Wow.