Whoa. That’s a pitcher’s duel if I’ve ever seen one. I mean, Jake Peavy went the distance and did it all by himself, while Lester was followed by three relievers. While Peavy’s effort was obviously commendable and the Other Sox fans are probably writhing from the gut-wrenching loss, the record books have it down as a W for us. Thus, as commendable as Peavy’s complete game was, ultimately we carried the day.
Now, when I say it was a pitcher’s duel, I’m really not kidding. Like, the final score was 1-0. So, seriously, it was a pitcher’s duel. The offense did the absolute bare minimum to get by. We collected a grand total of four hits as opposed to Chicago’s six, and only one of those was for extra bases. It was a double that belonged to Sweeney, also owner of our only multi-hit performance; he went four for two. As you can guess, we went down in order in the first and second. We sent one over the minimum to the plate because Byrd obtained our only walk of the game that inning. As you can also guess, Sweeney’s double figured prominently in the scoring; he opened the fourth with it and scored on a single by Gonzalez. Those five batters were the most we’d send up in any inning yesterday. We sent up four in the fifth and sixth and then went right back to going down in order in the seventh, eighth, and ninth.
Meanwhile, Lester was giving a pitching clinic. He was masterful and, overall, at his absolute best. He inflated his pitch count with considerable labor in the first and seventh, but as I said, overall he left absolutely nothing to be desired. He scattered five hits over seven innings while walking one and striking out seven. He threw 122 pitches, seventy-eight of which were strikes. His cut fastball was a thing of beauty, obviously. He paired that with a very effective changeup as well as some decent sinkers and curveballs. He threw thirty-two pitches in the first inning and twenty-nine pitches in the seventh, but those two inefficient innings book-ended a very consistent set of five innings in between, during which he threw eleven, twelve, sixteen, eleven, and eleven pitches, respectively. He varied his speed and mixed the pitches effectively, his strike zone was pretty even, and his release point was nice and tight. He was so good, he was scary. If I’m a hitter not playing for us, I’m terrified after that performance. It was his first win of the year, it was his best start of the year, and it was stellar. The degree to which this was a gem can not be overstated so much that it’s actually an epic understatement. I don’t raelly know what else to say about it.
And when he gave the ball to the bullpen, they preserved his one-run lead, which, when earned, honestly felt like ten runs. Morales and Padilla each received holds for handling the eighth, and Aceves picked up the save for his work in the ninth.
It was incredible. Not only does our winning streak now stand at six, and not only have we reached .500 for the first time this year, but we’ve also shown that we can win in many different ways. We can win with the long ball and the small ball, and now we’ve seen that we can win with close to no ball at all. This is a diverse team we have this year, and this might be the most pronounced moment of its emergence. These six games have been an eye-opener for what the team is capable of doing when it, well, actually does it. I just hope we keep it up.