Last night was a good, old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. We didn’t lose because we made fielding errors, we didn’t lose because our pitchers made mistakes, and we didn’t lose because we squandered opportunities or even because we temporarily forgot how to hit the ball. We simply lost because, as good as our pitcher was, their pitcher, for one night at least, was better. The match was even. I mean, if you have to lose, you should at least be able to lose with your dignity.
Beckett was absolutely phenomenal. You can’t get much better than the performance that he delivered. Actually, obviously that’s not true; it would have clearly been better had he not allowed any runs. But still.
Beckett pitched a full eight innings, and he was brutally efficient; he threw ninety-two pitches, sixty-six of which were strikes. Both of his fastballs were practically impeccable. Three-quarters of his two-seam were strikes, and over eighty percent of his four-seams were strikes. Almost three-quarters of his cutter were strikes too. His changeup and curveball were also good and added some variety and nasty speed changes. He was consistent with his inning pitch counts as well, and he got through half of his innings with pitch counts in the single digits. He finished the eighth with nine pitches, the first and fourth with seven, and the seventh, his best inning by far, with only five, if you can believe that. He threw ten in the second, twelve in the third, thirteen and the fifth, and his game high of nineteen in the sixth.
He gave up two runs on only five hits. Those two runs occurred, not coincidentally, in that sixth inning. He gave up three consecutive singles to start it, the third of which scored a run. After that, a force out scored another. Then he got out of the inning with a double play. That was really the only blemish. He faced the minimum in his first five innings. That’s over half the ballgame. His perfect game was broken up by a single in the fourth (a double play that inning kept it one-two-three). So the sixth and seventh were the only two innings during which he faced more than the minimum (he allowed another single in the seventh). He walked none and struck out five.
Unfortunately, we fared about as well as the Orioles, except for the important distinction of being one run worse. McDonald doubled to lead off the third, Byrd singled, and McDonald scored on a sac fly by Aviles. Two outs later, the inning was over, and so was one of our best opportunities of the night. We began the seventh with two consecutive singles, and with one out we worked two consecutive walks in the eighth, but other than that, it was a single here, a single there.
We lost, 2-1. So it really was the sixth inning that did us in, although I’m not willing to say that this was Beckett having one bad inning because, honestly, we’d be lucky if every one of our pitchers at this point had bad innings as benign as that one in the grand scheme of things. Middlebrooks went two for four for our only multi-hit performance, and that double by McDonald was our only extra-base hit of the game. We collected two more hits than Baltimore and left eight on base as opposed to their one. Padilla pitched a great ninth inning; Beckett took the loss.
But keep in mind that we may have lost with dignity, but a loss is still a loss. We’re back at .500, and the Orioles are undefeated in our house dating back to last season. This has to stop. Today.