After Sunday’s game, during which he tied a career high of 126 pitches thrown in a game, Beckett felt sore in his right lat. Nobody said anything this week, and now everyone is blaming everyone else; Beckett is blaming himself, and Bobby V. is blaming McClure and the trainers. Either way, this situation resulted in Aaron Cook starting yesterday afternoon. To add to the intrigue, the only reason why Aaron Cook was even in one of our uniforms heading into yesterday’s game was because he did not exercise his opt-out clause, which was because, due to the Beckett situation, there indeed seemed to be a place for him on the roster.
In total, Cook gave up seven runs, six earned, on eight hits over only two and two-thirds innings. His start was absolutely horrible in every conceivable way.
He retired the Orioles in order in the first, and after two straight singles in a second, Baltimore’s first run scored on a passed ball.
Now, that might not seem so bad, but trust me, it was awful. Salty ran back to get the ball, so Cook came in to cover home. Chris Davis was the baserunner coming in to score, and he and Cook slid into home plate at the same time, such that Cook’s knee landed right on one of Davis’s sole. Cook took a spike to the knee. The cut was so deep and so gross that Salty said he could actually see the interior of Cook’s leg. I mean, the skin of his leg was just hanging there. It really was ugly.
But here’s the amazing part. Not only did Cook attempt to follow through with the play at home, but he showed hardly any outward signs of pain despite the fact that it must have been considerable (he was standing up freely while he was being checked out at home plate), and he even had it tied up so he could continue pitching. Cook walked off the field freely and Mortensen was trotting out to the mound, but Bobby V. called him to the dugout. Cook’s knee was tied so tightly that he couldn’t feel his leg, and it clearly interfered with his ability to provide work that was productive and effective (the medical staff cleared him to pitch, and Bobby V. left it up to him), and even though that’s what cost us the ballgame, I’d say he deserves a massive amount of points for being a dirt dog and a teammate and hanging in there. He obviously did it, and even said this himself, because he wanted to give the bullpen a break after they worked overtime the previous night. I can’t even begin to imagine what that takes. That is a true competitor right there. He waited so long to get back to the big show and he wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip through his fingers. It was truly unbelievable.
Still, he had nothing after that. Without the power of his leg, he had to rely almost exclusively on his arm. He lost all control in the third inning, during which the Orioles sent ten batters to the plate and scored a grand total of seven runs. The Orioles – yes, the Orioles – scored seven runs in a single inning. That’s more than we’ve scored in whole games this year.
So here’s a breakdown of the whole ugly thing: a lineout, a single, a five-pitch walk, an RBI single, a two-run home run on a curveball, a double, another single, another RBI single, and a pitching change. Mortensen relieved Cook and then gave up a three-run home run on the sixth pitch he fired.
Mortensen got out of the third and pitched the next three innings in shutout fashion; Atchison pitched the next three after that. Meanwhile, the offense was in a sorry state because they were doing a whole lot of nothing yet again. We put two runners on in the first but sent only the minimum to the plate in the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. We finally got on the board in the seventh; Papi led it off with a groundout, and then Gonzalez singled. After a flyout by Aviles, Gonzalez came home on a double by Sweeney, who advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a single by Ross. Salty then doubled to keep the rally going, but Byrd killed it by striking out swinging. We put two runners on in the eighth for what looked like another rally that went on to be killed, and then we went down in order in the ninth, a fitting end to what was an utter failure by the offense to even come close to producing the necessary run support. Believe me, it would have been possible to beat Baltimore even though they’ve scored eight runs. We know that because we’ve all seen it happen.
But no. Baltimore won, 8-2. We posted eight hits, half of which were for extra bases, all of which were doubles. Pedroia went two for four, and Gonzalez went three for four. Punto, Papi, and Byrd all went hitless, although Papi did walk once, our only base on balls of the whole night. Speaking of Punto, he lost his grip on his bat in the sixth, and it went into the stands and hit a young fan, who was taken to the hospital. Obviously I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I wish Cook and the fan very speedy recoveries.