Wow. So much awesomeness in this game. Where to start? The beginning.
Lackey. Lackey picked up his fourth consecutive win. He was shaky at first; I didn’t know if he would make it through. In the first, he made a mistake; he gave up a three-run shot, and I was thinking back to our pathetic loss to open the series and how much I really did not want to see a repeat performance, ever. But he settled down after that. He allowed another home run in the fifth, a solo shot, but that was it for the rest of his night.
All told, he tossed five and two-thirds innings. He gave up four runs on eleven hits, but only three of those runs were earned; Youk, who returned to the lineup a day ahead of schedule, made a fielding error, which never happens. Just to be clear, I don’t think he made a fielding error because he returned to the lineup a day ahead of schedule. Anyway, Lackey walked only one and struck out three. Objectively, his start wasn’t great, but we’ll take anything we can get from him as long as he gets on the path to long-term consistent success. With the two-seam, four-seam, and cutter working as well as they did last night, he should have no problem getting there, although his changeup, slider, and curveball may prove to be stumbling blocks; although they’re excellent, they need to hit their spots more consistently. One mistake and you could have a night like the one Lackey just had where you allow two home runs. Granted, one of those was on a fastball, but still. Worth mentioning was his third inning: three up, three down, nine pitches. Done. Williams and Wheeler finished the game. Nobody earned a save because, trust me, it was nowhere near a save situation.
The offense all began with back-to-back home runs by Ellsbury and Pedroia. That was as good an indication as any of the explosive run barrage that was to follow. Ellsbury hit his on the second pitch he saw last night. It was a sinker, and he bounced it off the Pesky Pole. It was a laser after Pedroia’s own heart. He saw that ball as clear as day, and it got out in a hurry. Pedroia, on the other hand, duked it out with Bruce Chen. He hit his home run on his seventh pitch, an inside fastball. Don was right; that ball had more than enough to get out of the park. On Monday night, he was a homer shy of the cycle, and late in the game he actually almost hit one out. So what does he do during his first time up last night? He hits one out beyond the shadow of a doubt. It was a laser in every sense of the word. To the Monster in a hurry. Pedroia’s hitting streak now stands at twenty-four games, the longest of any Red Sox second baseman ever.
The bases were loaded for Ellsbury in the second. Ellsbury walked, Pedroia hit a sac fly, and Gonzalez grounded out. All of that brought in three more.
But we really blew the game wide open in the fourth. McDonald doubled and scored on a single by Navarro. Then Ellsbury grounded into a force out and stood at first. Pedroia singled and Ellsbury tried to score but was thrown out at the plate. Gonzalez and Youk then singled. So the bases were loaded for Papi.
When the table is set, Big Papi knows how to feast.
It was the fifth pitch of the at-bat. So far, Papi had received a fastball, two sinkers, and a slider. The count was 3-1. Chen dealt another slider belt-high. And the ball ended up in the seats behind the bullpen. Big Papi hit his tenth grand slam and batted in his thousandth run for Boston. The only other players who have batted in a thousand runs for Boston are Yaz, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dwight Evans, and Jim Rice; Papi now finds himself among the headiest company. Think about it. They spent their whole careers here; he’s reached that milestone in his ninth year. That’s a big accomplishment. And it was against a southpaw. The ball was absolutely crushed. He unleashed massive power and just skinned it. Big Papi hit a grand slam.
Ellsbury and Pedroia led off the sixth with a double and a single, respectively, so Gonzalez brought in another run with a single. The Royals picked up another run in the eighth, but Gonzalez got it back in the bottom of the inning with another RBI single.
McDonald and Navarro went two for four. Gonzalez went three for five. Ellsbury and Pedroia both went three for four. Five extra-base hits: two doubles and three homers.
And that’s how we came to win, 12-5. That, my friends, is how it’s done.