We did indeed win our fifth straight series! It was awesome. It was totally awesome. The Jays didn’t even know what hit them, and now we have a new best record we’ve ever had so far this year!
Lester pitched really well. He gave up four runs on seven hits while walking none and striking out four over seven innings. He gave up two home runs, a solo shot to lead off the fourth and a two-run shot with two out in the sixth. The only run he gave up that was not the result of a long ball occurred in the first; the Jays led off the game with a double, and the run scored on a single in the next at-bat. He threw one hundred pitches. The second, third, and fifth were one-two-three innings. His longest inning was the sixth, during which he threw twenty-three pitches. His lowest inning pitch count was nine, which he threw in both the second and fifth. His cut fastball was excellent, and his curveball, changeup, and sinker were all very effective.
But, believe it or not, as good as Lester was, the offense collectively was even better, which Lester clearly deserved because he hasn’t been supported well at all. The final score was 10-4, so we definitely took some batting practice.
We didn’t waste any time, either. We sent ten men to the plate in the first alone. Nava walked on four pitches, and that should have been the clue to the Jays that they were about to have a long, long night. He scored in the very next at-bat, when Pedroia doubled him in. Then Papi walked on four pitches, just in case the Jays didn’t get the hint the first time, and then Ross singled to load the bases. Gonzalez reached on a force attempted thanks to an error, which scored two. Middlebrooks then grounded out, which scored another, and Aviles singled, which scored another, and McDonald singled, which scored another. That’s four straight scoring plays.
But we were just getting started. With one out in the second, Papi and Ross worked back-to-back walks on five pitches each, and Papi scored on a single by Gonzalez. We took a break in the third but returned to our onslaught in the fourth. Papi led off the fourth with an extremely patient, eight-pitch walk, and Ross doubled him to third. He scored on a single by Gonzalez. After Middlebrooks struck out, Aviles brought Ross home with a double. With one out in the fifth, Papi smacked a solo shot on his second pitch, a ninety-two mile-per-hour fastball. It was one of those swings where you knew it was going out of the park the minute the bat made contact with the ball. I think he just got tired of walking. Now he’s got only one more for four hundred!
Then we were done. We went down easily in order in the sixth, seventh, and eighth. Meanwhile, Melancon had pitched the eighth, and Mortensen had pitched the ninth. Lester was rewarded with the win. Gonzalez went two for five, Aviles went two for four, and Ross went two for three. Papi only went one for two, but with three walks. He also scored four runs, which tied his career high. Half of our hits were for extra bases. Defensive highlights included McDonald’s truly incredible jumping catch to put up the first out of the ninth. It would have been a home run for sure, but McDonald leaped at just the right time and just the right angle to catch the ball in its arc over the bullpen wall. He actually landed on the wall and didn’t even go over it, and Mortensen gave him a very well-deserved tip of his hat.
I guess we like the extremes. On Tuesday, we needed heroics in the late innings; yesterday, if we didn’t score any runs after the first inning, then all else being equal, we still would have won. And we can feel proud of having won seven of nine games at home before heading back on the road. I can hardly believe it but we’re actually tied with the Rays for third place now.