Miller was masterful. After seeing some of his earlier starts, I bet you never thought we’d be saying that. But that’s what happens with young pitchers. They mature, get their work in, see the batters in the league, and then suddenly you realize that somewhere along the way they just figured it out. That’s how Miller looked last night. Last night he looked like someone who had it all figured out.
He shutout the Texas Rangers for six and a third innings. He gave up only three hits while walking two and striking out six. He threw eighty-three pitches, fifty-one of them for strikes. Tito took him out with an out and a man on in the seventh. In terms of pitch count, he could even have finished that inning. His fastballs were excellent; his changeup and slider were decent. He doesn’t have a big arsenal like mature starting pitchers do, but it was enough. His highest pitch count in an inning was twenty-one in the sixth; his lowest was seven in the fifth. He began strong by only throwing ten in the first. It was fun to watch. It was a glimpse of what we could be seeing regularly from him in a few years.
Meanwhile, the lineup did some more crushing. Gonzalez jacked the first pitch he saw in the game, a fastball, to center field. It was a straight shot straight back. It was his hundredth RBI of the season. It was his fourth home run of the series. It was not his last.
Papi led off the second by jacking a fastball as well. The fastball was inside, and he sent it to the seats in right.
I think Gonzalez decided that he wanted to hit another home run. That’s how controlled and skilled a hitter he is. I think he just decided that he was going to hit another home run. He waited for Lowrie to walk first and then jacked another fastball, again the first pitch of his at-bat, into the bullpen in left center field. So he jacked the first two pitches he saw in the game. Seriously, everything he does when he steps into the batter’s box is a textbook example of how it should be done. Maybe he just decided, “I think I’ll hit two home runs today.” That comes to five dingers in his last three games, the first time it’s happened in our club since Kevin Millar did it in July 2004. (Needless to say, we all know how the 2004 season turned out. Coincidence? I think not.) Those two home runs combined for an approximate distance of 860 feet. I think his power stroke is back.
I guess Salty was watching all of this and thought it was fun and wanted in on the party. He waited for Crawford to lead off the fourth with a single and then jacked a fastball of his own, also the first pitch of his at-bat. The fast ball was away and took it to the opposite field in left.
The game was won by the fifth inning; the final score was already in place. Miller, Aceves, and Wheeler made sure it stayed put.
That means that every single one of our runs was scored via the long ball. Every single one of them. The only extra-base hit we had last night that wasn’t a home run was a double by Reddick. We left four on base and went 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position. We put up nine hits, which pales in comparison to the hit totals we put up on Tuesday and Wednesday. But we won, 6-0. Texas should know better than to think that, just because they beat us in the beginning of the season and just because they took the opener of this series, we wouldn’t do anything to take our dignity back. In this series, we hit nine home runs and outscored the Rangers, 30-7. As a result, we are now eighty and fifty. We are thirty games over .500 for the first time this year, and it just goes to show you how good we really are; despite our slow start to the season, this is the fastest we’ve won eighty games since 1978. We taught them a lesson: don’t mess with Boston.