I never thought I would be able to seriously consider the possibility that Andrew Miller might be in the middle of a no-no bid. But you would be lying if you didn’t say that that’s exactly what you were doing too.
It was going to be an unbelievably huge story. If Andrew Miller had the repertoire, the composure, and the stamina to pull that off, it was going to be enormous.
And then Craig Tatum singled with one out in the fifth. After that, hits five and two-thirds innings just seemed run-of-the-mill. But unlike many experienced Major League pitchers who sometimes completely unravel after losing a no-no bid, Miller kept himself in line. He maintained his shutout, allowed only two hits, and struck out three. He walked a whopping six. And he threw 103 pitches. So his composure was obviously there. His command and control, not so much. In six starts with us, he now has sixteen strikeouts and twenty-one walks to his credit. A pitcher’s walk total should never be higher than his strikeout total. Still, when you look at the start in its entirety, it was really impressive. Sure, he loaded the bases in the second inning by issuing three straight walks, but then he got out of it by inducing a double play to end the inning. And the second hit he allowed was also a single.
Miller picked up the win; Albers took the ball from him, and he, Bard, and Paps just cruised and combined to extend the shutout. One of the most threatening jams that any of them encountered was a two-on, two-out situation in the sixth; Albers got Nolan Reimond to ground into an inning-ending force out. Done.
We managed a single in each of the first two innings, and that was about it. Ellsbury, as he is wont to do, made things a little more interesting in the third. He came into the game batting .467 against the Orioles. If I’m an Orioles pitcher, he is the last person I would ever want to see. So the first thing he did when he stepped up to the plate for his second at-bat of the game was show everyone why. He got us on the board with a home run to right center field on a fastball. They wanted the fastball inside. It stayed out over the middle. That’s pretty much what happens when you leave a fastball out over the middle. In retrospect, that would have been it. But he was just getting started.
Reddick singled to open the fourth, and Crawford followed that up with a double to move him to third. He scored on Tek’s groundout.
That was it until the seventh, when Ellsbury went deep again. It was another shot he pulled to right, this one on a changeup. This one was an even bigger statement. Harder, higher, faster, deeper. For the second time in his career, he went deep for the first time in three years and the second time in his career.
We added the finishing touch in the eighth. A single, a double, and a walk loaded the bases for Crawford, who walked in a run. Good for us. Extremely terrible and totally demoralizing for the pitcher.
Pedroia hit an infield single in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to eighteen games, a new career high. Ellsbury went two for four and finished the series six for twelve. He extended his hitting streak against Baltimore to twenty-nine games, the longest in the team’s history since they moved there. And he’s posted multi-hit performances in eighteen of his last thirty-eight games. Reddick and Crawford both went two for three; Crawford stole a base. And in an incredibly emphatic demonstration of an absence of a slump, Gonzalez went four for five. None of them were for extra bases, but each one was a great piece of hitting.
We left eight on base and went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. But twelve hits later, we won the game and the series. That was a foregone conclusion. It should’ve been a sweep. But there’s nothing we can do about that now, and it obviously could have been worse; we could have lost the series. That would have been terrible. We’ll just have to make our point next time by sweeping with slugfests. Meanwhile, we go into our off day with some momentum and then we’re going home to take on Seattle and Kansas City. I want to see us running away with the standings by the start of August.