See, this is good. This is what we should be doing. That’s what I call building on momentum. We won, and then we won again. So it can’t really be so impossible to win multiple times in a row, can it? I mean, that was awesome. It was a slugfest, and we left Minnesota in the dust. The team made it look so easy, like we’ve been playing that way all season so far. This better not be the latest episode in our grand motif of inconsistency.
For now, at least, we can celebrate this one. The final score was 11-2. We posted eighteen hits to their six; eight of our eighteen hits were for extra bases. Two of those were home runs, and six of them were doubles. And we went six for sixteen with runners in scoring position.
Aviles started things off in the first with a double with two strikes; not a bad way to battle back and start the game. Then Sweeney singled him in. After Pedroia grounded out, Gonzalez and Papi hit back-to-back singles which resulted in another run. Then Youk singled, making that three in a row, and Gonzalez scored on Ross’s groundout.
Beckett didn’t seem like he was going to uphold his end of the bargain; he loaded the bases in a hurry in the bottom of the first while securing only one run. Then he proceeded to walk in a run on ten pitches to Joe Mauer. That’s three consecutive bases on balls. I have to tell you, at that moment I got really scared that it was going to be a repeat of our performance against the Yankees when we dropped our eight run lead, except this time the blame would fall squarely on Beckett. Beckett’s exchange with home plate umpire Adrian Johnson probably didn’t help the situation at all. There were angry stares, and then Beckett said words, and then Johnson said words, and then Bobby V. had to intervene. It clearly could have been a lot worse.
Fortunately, that fear turned out to be moot. Beckett’s very next inning was one-two-three, and we went back to scoring; Gonzalez led off the third with a walk, and then Papi tore a homer to right on a cutter. It was so fierce that Jerry Remy said that he couldn’t even see the ball when he was going out. Papi knew it as soon as the ball connected with the bat that there was no way it was staying inside the park.
Beckett got into a bit of a jam in the third when he had runners on second and third with one out, but he secured a lineout followed by a flyout to end it made possible by a very Ellsbury-esque diving and sliding catch by Byrd. Not a bad way to begin his time in Boston, especially since he started out on the play with the absolute wrong read on the ball.
Aviles led off the fourth with a solo shot to left on a full-count fastball right down the pipe that he just crushed. It was a fair ball by inches, literally. Then Sweeney doubled and scored on a single by Gonzalez.
Beckett had a one-two-three fourth. Byrd led off the bottom of the inning with a single. Shoppach struck out swinging, and then Aviles hit an RBI double. Then Sweeney struck out swinging, and Pedroia and Gonzalez hit back-to-back RBI doubles.
Beckett allowed his last run of the night in the fifth on a pair of doubles. Both teams went down in order in the next two innings. Then, in the eighth, a single and two five-pitch walks loaded the bases for McDonald, who score two by grounding into a force out.
So that was basically it. Papi, Youk, Byrd, and Sweeney each had two hits, one of which for Sweeney was a double. Papi’s twenty-eight hits so far this month are the most in the ball club since Joe Cronin hit thirty in April 1937. Aviles went four for five with two doubles and a home run – those four hits being a new career high – and Gonzalez was a perfect three for three at the plate with one double. Beckett pitched up the win and allowed only two runs on five hits while walking three and striking out five in six innings. He threw exactly one hundred pitches; his best pitches for strikes were his changeup, cutter, and four-seam, and he also threw in a few two-seams and curveballs. He threw thirty-seven pitches in the first inning, which is a higher inning total than even Dice-K would throw (I’ve used that comparison a lot, but firstly, if I shouldn’t use this comparison then he should pitch better, and secondly, thirty-seven pitches is really exorbitant), but he obviously settled down considerably after that first inning. Indeed, his first inning was essentially his one bad inning, but as we know he escaped with the minimal damage of only one run. Atchison pitched in the seventh and eighth, and Albers pitched the ninth.
Well, I’m obviously thrilled with the win, but I wonder if it’ll actually take us somewhere this time. What are the chances we play like that again today?