Well, this one was a miniature slugfest. I saw us win two run-heavy landslides, and I wanted to see us win a close one, just to observe how we’d handle ourselves in light of our new momentum and just to feel some relief that we can succeed in a game that’s pretty average.
And we did. We won, 6-4. You always want to make sure that the team is firing on all cylinders, but like I said, sometimes that won’t happen, and I was really happy to see that it didn’t phase us.
Doubront’s start was not great. He gave up four runs on nine hits in five innings, including a solo shot to lead off the sixth after which he was replaced by Atchison; it was a two-seam on a 3-1 count. He walked one and struck out seven. He fired ninety-six pitches; efficiency was obviously lacking. He had a really good four-seam going; he threw it for strikes more than three-quarters of the time and brought it up to ninety-five miles per hour. His two-seam and curveball were pretty solid as well. His changeup and his cutter, less so.
Obviously the fifth and sixth were his worst innings. Before the leadoff homer in the sixth, he gave up three in the fifth. After posting a called strike on four pitches to start things of, Doubront gave up two consecutive singles followed by two RBI doubles.
Fortunately, Atchison secured the first out in the sixth, Padilla completed that inning and pitched through the seventh, Morales handled the eighth, and Aceves completed a one-two-three ninth.
The offense, as I said, did an adequate job. After going down in order in the first, we mounted a substantial threat in the second when Youk singled and Papi doubled to begin the inning. Then, after swinging through a changeup, Ross unleashed on a fastball clocked at ninety-five miles per hour and sent it over the Green Monster and into Lansdowne Street. We’d seen him bat around in Spring Training, but seeing his power come out like this in the regular season is really exciting. Welcome to Fenway Park’s left field.
We went down in order again in the third and scored our next run in the fourth on the play that ended the inning. Papi singled and Ross walked on four pitches; with two out, Shoppach doubled in Papi, while Ross was out at home. (Speaking of the fourth, the top of the inning ended with a spectacular play by Aviles that saved a base hit as well as, possibly, a run. He ran, slid, dove, and fired, and the runner on third was caught in a rundown with two out.) We went down in order yet again in the fifth; in the sixth, Youk walked and scored on a double by Papi. Aviles led off the seventh with a home run on a fastball down the pipe to center field, right off the top of the wall. It was quite the mighty swing. And that was when the final score was cemented.
We posted only eight hits to their thirteen, but as far as the standings are concerned, the 6-4 is all that matters. More than half (five) of our hits were for extra bases. Papi had the only multi-hit game, going three for four with two doubles. Ross may have gone only one for two, but that one was a big one, and he walked twice. Doubront may have started, but the record books say that the day belonged to the bullpen: Padilla got the win, Morales got the hold, and Aceves got the save.
Obviously it was fantastic to get a win on a day special to everyone throughout Major League Baseball, the day commemorating Jackie Robinson, in honor of which all of us were wearing the number Forty-Two. Jackie Robinson, we salute you.