We won yet again! And we did it facing two of our former pitchers: Justin Masterson and Dan Wheeler. Each of them was credited with a half of our run total. It’s always a pleasure to see old friends. It’s also always a pleasure to remind them what a great place to play they left behind, no matter what the reason was for their leaving. Unfortunately, given the way we’ve been playing, it was unclear whether we’d be able to accomplish that; just because we’ve had ourselves a small winning streak doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re at a point where we can win consistently as a team. But we did it, and it was sweet.
Bard gave up one run on six hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out two. Despite his decent line, I can’t technically make a general statement that his start was awesome because it was easy to see that his fastball was off. He threw ninety-seven pitches, fifty-eight of which were strikes. He went one-two-three in the first and fifth and faced at most two above the minimum in every other inning he pitched except the third. He allowed his run in the third, when he loaded the bases with one out after giving up two walks and a single; then he walked in a run. Needless to say, it was an ugly and total loss of command and control, and it’s a good thing he found the strike zone again afterwards.
By the time Hill came on to replace Bard in the seventh, we had scored six runs and we weren’t even done. It turns out that that would only be half our run total at the end of the game. We didn’t waste any time, either. The first didn’t exactly begin too auspiciously, as Sweeney and Pedroia both grounded out, but then Papi walked, Gonzalez doubled, Middlebrooks singled in Papi, Nava doubled in Gonzalez, Ross got hit, and Salty singled in both Middlebrooks and Nava. That’s six straight plays with two outs before recording the third, and half of those plays brought home runs. And, both literally and figuratively, it was only the beginning.
We went down in order in the second, but then Middlebrooks smashed a solo shot on a fastball in, the second pitch of his at-bat, in the third. It got out in a hurry and bounced right off the top of the ledge on the Monster. We scored our sixth run in the sixth; Nava was hit by a pitch to start things off, stole second, and scored on a single by Salty.
At that point, we were leading, 6-1. If the game wasn’t out of the Tribe’s reach at that point already, then we definitely blew it wide open in the seventh. We scored six runs in the seventh alone. That’s more runs than we’ve scored in several whole games this year. Pedroia started the push with a double and scored on a single by Papi. Then Gonzalez doubled, and Middlebrooks walked on a wild pitch, which sent Papi home. Nava then doubled in both Gonzalez and Middlebrooks. Ross grounded out, which advanced Nava to third, and he and Salty both scored on a homer by the latter on a slider. The ball landed right on the covered seats in center field. It was straight-up power.
And that was it. Albers pitched the eighth, and Atchison pitched the ninth. We won by a score of 12-1 and posted as many hits as runs, more than half of which, seven, were for extra bases. Multi-hit performances were given by Middlebrooks, whose nine extra-base hits in his first ten games is the most in the Major Leagues since 2008, when Chris Dickerson of the Cincinnati Reds hit nine as well; Gonzalez and Nava, whose two hits each were both doubles; and Salty, who went three for four with five RBIs. Add to that the staff’s solid outing, and Cleveland didn’t stand a chance. Wow, that is great to say.