That start was lousy as lousy gets. Now when you look back to the game that started the second half, you’re saddled with a memory like this. It provides no momentum, no morale, and no message to any other team that says, “Here we come.” Instead it just sort of says, “There we went.”
Miller gave up seven runs on five hits while walking five and striking out zero in two and two-thirds innings. As is often the case, you can learn everything you need to know about why his outing was bad from the kinds of scoring plays that occurred because they’re manifestations of the issues that were plaguing him all night. Or all two and two-thirds innings, anyway. The game began with such promise; Johnny Damon hit a ball that would have fallen in if not for Scutaro’s Ellsbury-like running, diving catch. Things quickly unraveled after that. The first run, scored in the first inning, resulted from two walks followed by a single; this tells his that his command, control, and efficiency were lacking. The next four runs, scored in the second inning, were the result of a single, a walk, a sac bunt (the runner ended up at first), a force out at home (a perfectly executed play by Pedroia and Salty, by the way), and a home run. In theory, it was supposed to be a changeup. In practice, it was a grand slam. This tells us that his location and execution were also lacking. The fifth run, scored in the third inning, was again the result of singles and walks. After he walked Damon on four pitches to load the bases, Aceves replaced him and walked in an inherited runner.
Clearly, we had some catch-up to play, and we did our best to play it. McDonald got us on the board in the second with a solo shot to left. Heat doesn’t scare him, so it was really fun to watch him get up there and swing away at this ninety-six-mile-per-hour fastball.
An inning later, Ellsbury also homered on the exact same pitch at the exact same speed but to right field, which brought in his fiftieth RBI of the year.
We didn’t do anything else until the sixth, which Pedroia led off with a solo shot on the exact same pitch at almost the exact same speed to left center field. You knew as soon as the ball left the bat that it was going out. You knew it. His swing was just massively powerful.
Wheeler came in for Aceves in the sixth and gave up a two-run home run, which set us back. In the seventh, Navarro worked a seven-pitch walk and Scutaro smacked a two-run shot on the exact same pitch but a little slower, about ninety miles per hour. It was a big lob out to left.
The only run we did not score via the long ball was the result of Pedroia’s double to lead off the eighth followed by Youk’s single to bring him in.
Morales and Albers went in to pitch the late innings, and then it was over. It was a truly valiant effort of course, but we lost, 9-6.
Oh, and Papi was suspended for four games for the brawl, which he is appealing. So between the loss and the suspension, that is not even remotely how you want to start the second half. No, sir.