I did say almost, so here’s that story.
Bedard’s night wasn’t great. He gave up three runs on five hits while walking three and striking out six. He gave up a two-run home run. He lasted three and a third innings. He threw eighty-four pitches, forty-eight of which were strikes. He left the fourth after having allowed that homer, and on top of that Aceves came in with two on base. He got through it without a hitch and stayed on to pitch three and two-thirds innings, giving up a solo shot to lead off the sixth in the process.
Baltimore struck first, but we answered mightily for a change. Scutaro doubled in the third, and Ellsbury smacked a two-run shot on a changeup right down the middle. He hit it to right center field and with one swing gave us a one-run lead.
Two singles into the fourth, Lavarnway did the same thing. Tek had a sore right knee, and Salty had taken that foul ball on the collarbone on his throwing side on Monday night and had to leave in the eighth. Thankfully, x-rays were negative. But it was up to Lavarnway to do the catching. May I say he did a truly phenomenal job, starting with a three-run shot on a fastball to left after already having thrown someone out at third. Talk about playing well under pressure. There was one out, a full count, and a Wild Card hanging in the balance. And that was his first career home run right there.
He flied out to end the inning with the bases loaded in the fifth but made up for that by leading off the eighth with a solo shot on another fastball to left center field. Meanwhile, Crawford had tripled in the sixth and scored on Scutaro’s two-run shot on a curveball, also to left center field.
So heading into the eighth we had a comfortable 8-4 lead. I’ve been pretty frustrated lately so I have to say I was hoping that we’d just crush Baltimore. But four runs isn’t bad; it’s twice as many as they’d scored, and Bard was getting the ball for the eighth. Obviously there was a stretch during which there was no point in feeling good about that, but lately he’s been alright.
Bard had a relapse. It wasn’t enough to give up the lead, but it was definitely enough to make us extremely nervous. A couple of singles and a triple resulted in two runs. The whole inning took twenty-five pitches, and suddenly our lead was cut in half.
When Paps took the ball for the ninth, we started breathing sighs of relief. It turns out that they were substantially premature. It took him a grand total of four pitches to allow two singles and eleven pitches to get his first out of the inning, a groundout. Another groundout brought in a run. So now we have two outs in the inning and we’re clinging to a one-run lead. I know Paps likes excitement and adrenaline rushes and all, but honestly that was a bit much for us. We’re barely in the playoffs at this point; it wasn’t funny. A third and final groundout finally ended the inning, and then we could relax. But I’m telling you, I was not amused. The final score was 8-7.
And don’t forget Crawford’s spectacular catch in the left field stands for the second out of the first. Nice read on an extremely high popup. It was sweet.