Okay. Nobody panic. Just because we slugged our way to victory using only two pitchers does not mean that there is something horribly wrong with the world.
Wow. Remember the good, old days when slugging our way to victory using only two pitchers actually meant that there was something excellently right with the world? We used to expect it, even as recently as last season (before September, anyway). Now we’re pleasantly surprised by it. We need to get back to expecting it, and last night was yet another step in the right direction. Don’t look now, but we’ve got a bit of a winning streak going, and we seem to actually be building on our momentum consistently! Who knew, right?
Doubront set the stage for the win. He allowed only three runs on five hits while walking three and striking out two in six innings. He did allow a leadoff homer in the fourth. He threw 110 pitches, sixty-six for strikes. (In case you haven’t noticed, there is no room in Bobby V.’s philosophy for pitch counts. Dice-K must be thrilled.)
He used five pitches, the best of which were the two-seam and the cutter, ironically enough his most and least frequently used pitches, respectively. His four-seam, changeup, and curveball were all pretty decent and effective. He was pretty consistent pitch count-wise in most but not all of his innings; he threw between sixteen (the second) and twenty-eight (the first) pitches in each of his innings except the fifth, when he only threw eight.
The value of Doubront’s quality start, which yielded his first win of the year, can not be overstated. Make no mistake, folks: without a quality start, we could have lost even if the offense had scored ten runs. I know that because a similar situation has happened to us already. You need pitching, offense, and defense that’s not only consistently good but consistently better than the other team’s to win ballgames consistently. It’s highly unlikely that you could possibly hope to get by in the long run with even one of those missing, no matter how stellar the other two would be. So even though Doubront technically was inefficient, and he technically was inconsistent at times (in other words, he wasn’t even consistently inconsistent), a quality start was a quality start, and he settled down just enough to hand the ball to Tazawa in good shape, who finished off the game.
Speaking of stellar, the offense went through the roof and didn’t waste any time doing it. Aviles began the game auspiciously enough with a walk. Then Sweeney struck out, Pedroia singled, Aviles scored on a double by Gonzalez, and Pedroia scored on a single by Papi.
Then the third inning rolled around and with one swing of the bat Youk increased our lead threefold. Sweeney was hit. Pedroia lined out, and Gonzalez and Papi worked back-to-back walks. And then Youk swung through a slider for a strike. And then he blasted a fastball into the bullpen for none other than a grand slam! I’m telling you, he hit that ball so hard I thought the skin was going to come off of it. There are two ways that that ball could have been hit, as Jerry Remy explained. Youk could have done what any other hitter would have done and done what he thought was his best by hitting a grounder. Or he could have launched it to the opposite field. Dirt dog and hitter extraordinaire that he is, Youk clearly chose to launch it to the opposite field like it was no big deal. It was so ridiculously awesome. It was the first grand slam we’ve seen this year, and it was, as I said, ridiculously awesome. Did I mention that it was ridiculously awesome?
And as if that weren’t enough, Salty hit a solo shot for back-to-back homers! This one was on a curveball that didn’t curve, the third pitch of the at-bat, which he also launched to right field, just barely around the foul pole. And the crack of his bat was loud. Apparently he got a new shipment of bats. Apparently he should make sure he uses them. Like, all the time.
We went down in order in the fourth, but Salty made up for that in the fifth, when he homered yet again with Youk on base, this time to left center field, just barely out of the park, on a fastball. Yet again an opposite field long shot. Yet again a thunderous crack of the bat. It was the third multi-homer game of his career.
We went down in order in the sixth, seventh, and eighth and put the finishing touches on the final score in the ninth, when Aviles doubled and scored on a single by Sweeney.
So let’s tally it up, shall we? Sweeney and Salty each collected two hits, and Youk collected three. In total, half of our hits were for extra bases, and half of those extra-base hits were home runs, the other half being doubles. We also batted .500 with runners in scoring position. And there was a fantastic diving catch by Sweeney in the second for the second out of the inning; it was a fantastic recovery from his initial lack of read on the ball.
The final score was 10-3; after Wednesday’s narrow win, this was exactly what we needed to see. I mean, we crushed. I wish we could crush like this every game. Here’s to crushing again tomorrow!