First of all, let me just say that honoring Papi before the game for his four hundred career home runs was a very nice and well-deserved touch.
When I emphasized our need for a strong series, a game like last night’s was not exactly what I had in mind because we lost. We are now eight and a half games out of first place, a new season high, or more accurately a new season low. To be fair, it wasn’t one of those games where the Yanks just scored a mountain of runs and then we had to battle all the way back from scratch but failed to score those few extra we needed at the end. Our hitters did not procrastinate. We stayed right with them, neck-and-neck throughout the contest. That was why the outcome was crushing.
Beckett did not have a good night by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s always funny how a bad night against any other team looks so much worse against the Evil Empire. He only lasted five innings and gave up six runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out five. He threw ninety pitches, forty-nine of which were strikes, so just over half or so.
It was not pretty. He faced the entire starting nine in the first inning alone, and this is how it went: two straight singles, a hit batsman to load the bases, a five-pitch walk to walk in a run, an RBI single that scored two, a sac fly that scored one, another single, and another sac fly to score another one, and finally a groundout to end it. It was painful, it was humiliating, it was horrific, and if it wasn’t a sign for things to come, I don’t know what was.
Fortunately, at least at the time, we actually succeeded in getting all of those runs back and tying the game at five before the first inning was even done. It was amazing, and it gave us a reason to believe that we were still in this thing, because for most of the game we actually were. Nava led off the first for us with a double, advanced to third on wild pitch, and scored on a sac fly by Kalish. Then Papi singled, Ross reached on an error, Gonzalez doubled in Papi, and Salty hit a huge three-run shot on his second pitch that ended up in right several feet away from the foul pole. I mean, that’s basically what happens if you throw a middle-in fastball to Salty. It was his seventeenth of the year, a new career high.
We continued playing cat-and-mouse for pretty much the rest of the game, right up until the Yanks scored their two winning runs that we obviously did not answer. Beckett gave up a triple followed by a groundout for another run in the top of the second; Nava got hit, Kalish singled, and Nava scored on a single by Papi in the bottom of the second. Both teams went down in order in the third. Neither team scored in the fourth, either. The Yanks didn’t score in the top of the fifth, and we gave ourselves our first lead of the night in the bottom of the frame; Gonzalez singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Gomez, which made the score 7-6.
Neither team scored in the sixth, which Albers pitched. But it turned bad again in the seventh, when Miller came on. He gave up a walk and a single followed by a strikeout. Then Padilla came on and gave up a triple that scored two. He followed that with a strikeout and then a double that scored one. Atchison came on and then allowed his inherited runner to score on a single. And the squandering of the one-run lead continues.
Ross homered to lead off the seventh on his third pitch, which ended up in the Monster seats. Salty’s home run scored more runs, but Ross’s home run was a moon shot. The ball went over the Monster. Not in it. Over it. And it’s hard to hit a homer more moon shot-esque than that. We put two men on over the course of the rest of the inning, but it didn’t amount to anything because Derek Jeter just had to convert what would have been a surefire hit into a force out, and then Punto struck out to end it. Melancon pitched a solid eighth and ninth, during which we did not score. And then we went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, and the Evil Empire won, 10-8.
Gomez went two for four, Gonzalez went three for five, and Papi went three for four. Both teams posted fourteen hits each and converted four of their opportunities with runners in scoring position. Beckett received a no-decision, Albers received a hold, Miller received both a hold and the loss, and Padilla received a blown save. Defensive highlights included Punto gunning down A-Rod at home in the fifth for the second out. It was an absolutely perfect block and tag. What a textbook play.
The reason why this loss was so rough was not only because we lost to the Yankees, which is obviously a really big part of it. It was also because we were right in that game until, well, until we weren’t anymore, until they scored those two runs that would go unanswered. To have to witness the Yanks get five runs off of Beckett and then to watch as we got every single one of those runs back, three of them on one swing of the bat, before the first inning was even over was just truly awesome and amazing. And then to watch us stay right there with them almost every step of the way, like I said, was a real testament to what we have in us and how great we can really be. And, like I said, that was why the loss was so devastating. It was because we could have won just as easily as we lost.