I know it’s the A’s, but I am so relieved that we didn’t let that one loss get us down. As well as we played before that loss, and even though that loss technically wasn’t our fault because objectively speaking Gavin Floyd did pitch a great game, I still wanted to see that we could make it last, maybe not as an infinite winning streak, but as a way of being. A way of being that ingrained itself in the team’s mentality, and a way of being that would be sustainable throughout the season.
That’s a lot to put on this one win against the A’s, but then again, if we didn’t win, we’d be that much farther away from achieving it. You have to start somewhere, and this game during this stretch seems as good as any.
Buchholz didn’t end up having the most quality of starts, although it certainly started out that way. He gave up six runs on seven hits while walking five in six and two-thirds innings, but five of those runs were allowed in those two-thirds of an inning in the seventh.
He gave up an RBI single in the second. He retired the side in the third, fourth, and sixth. And then he totally fell apart in the seventh. He opened it by giving up a single, followed by a walk, followed by a lineout and then a force out, followed by another walk. Then Coco Crisp of all people singled in two. Then Josh Reddick of all people hit a three-run home run. Reddick goes deep, and Bailey is on the DL. Yeah. That worked out real well.
Buchholz threw ninety-nine pitches, sixty-three of which were strikes. His best pitch was his curveball, and he also used a very, very effective fastball, changeup, and cutter. So he was absolutely fantastic until the seventh, when he threw twenty-seven pitches before he left. Before that, he was very efficient and consistent; he needed a pre-seventh inning high of eighteen pitches in the fifth and a low of only six pitches in the third. He needed only nine in the sixth, so he was great right down to the wire before he just snapped.
I’m telling you, if there’s one thing he’s been consistent about so far this year, it’s his inconsistency. What will it take for him to get on the right track? If not for that seventh inning, this would have been his best start of the season, hands down. He was pretty explicit in expressing his frustration that inning, and I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that so were we.
Very fortunately for Buchholz, the offense was able to set the table so well that the five runs were scored after we finished scoring all our runs, and it still made absolutely no difference in who won and who lost.
Papi got us on the board in the second by leading it off with a solo shot into the bullpen on a full-count fastball. That baseball never stood a chance. After Shoppach struck out, McDonald doubled and scored on a single by Byrd, who scored one out later on a single by Aviles, who moved to second on a single by Pedroia and scored when Gonzalez reached on a throwing error.
The very next inning started the same as the first, with Papi setting up the scoring. He worked a walk and set the stage for McDonald’s homer to the center-field part of the Monster one out later on the first pitch of his at-bat. The only question was whether it would require review, since it hit right at the top of the wall. But that clearly was out. The A’s didn’t even ask for a review.
We went down in order in the fourth, but Papi more than made up for that by yet again initiating the scoring with yet another solo shot, this one into the bullpen again, also on a fastball. Reddick actually chased this one down so much that he flipped right over the bullpen wall. I don’t even remember the last time I’d seen a ballplayer make a move like that. It was hilarious. The ball grazed his glove, and then he just flipped right over that wall. One out later, McDonald singled and scored on a double by Byrd. Then Punto walked on five pitches, and Aviles brought in two more with a massive three-run shot on a changeup middle in into the first row of the Monster seats. It was indeed massive.
We went down in order in the sixth and seventh; Pedroia doubled and Gonzalez walked intentionally in the eighth, but like I said, the final score held at 11-6. Which means that Tazawa, Padilla who received a hold, Atchison, Morales who received a hold, and Aceves all did their jobs and combined to pitch the rest of the game in shutout fashion.
Both teams ended up having posted eleven hits, but where two of Oakland’s were for extra bases, seven of ours were for extra bases, four of them home runs, all of which came against southpaws. We went three for eight with runners in scoring position. Aviles, Pedroia, Papi, and Byrd each collected two hits, while McDonald went three for four.
Let’s step back and look at Papi for a second. Both of his hits were home runs last night, which makes thirty-six multi-homer games in his career. And he has set the team record for hits in April, giving him an average this month of .405, which must be close to the, it not simply the, best in the American League.
Still, it was a really good team effort. Everyone chipped in for this one, even the bullpen. Only one member of the starting lineup failed to reach base: Ross. But overall the team as a group pulled it together, which is exactly what you like to see after a tough loss.