Let’s start with the bad news first. How convenient that it actually occurred first. We lost the opener, 6-1. Morales basically imploded and had one of the worst starts a pitcher can have. He was the starter for the day and gave up six runs on six hits over the course of three and one-third inning. If that had been all and he just had a bad day, it would still have been painful but at least it would have been acceptable. The fact that all six of those runs scored via the long ball is simply unacceptable. That means that way too many of his pitchers were just really bad mistakes. You never want to be on the business end of a clinic-like slugfest performance. Morales gave up two consecutive home runs in the first inning, one three-runner and one solo shot. He somehow sent the Evil Empire down in order in the second and somehow pitched around two baserunners in the third, and then he gave up two straight solo shots to open the fourth. One popout and one baserunner-via-error later (you can thank Gomez for that), he was replaced by Justin Germano, who, despite a bases-loaded situation in the fifth and two baserunners in the eighth, did not allow any runs.
Meanwhile, we scored a grand total of one run, and we played small ball to get that one. Papi and Gonzalez hit back-to-back singles with one out in the fourth, and Gomez singled in Papi. That was it. That was all we came up with. We went down in order in the second, third, sixth, and ninth. The sixth was particularly infuriating because technically it didn’t have to be that way. Papi walked to start the inning, and then Gonzalez hit something that looked like it was headed for the Monster for sure. Unfortunately it was caught, but Papi had already rounded second and couldn’t get back to first, so obviously he was out. We had two on in the fifth but did nothing with that opportunity. We had only four chances with runners in scoring position, and Gomez went two for four for our only multi-hit game. I may add that Darnell McDonald, in his first game with the Evil Empire, went hitless and dreadlock-less. It’s always a sad day to see one formerly your own have to go to the dark side.
So that’s the bad news. The good news is that we split the day and won the nightcap, 9-5! Revenge is a dish served cold. Well, it’s July in Boston, so I don’t know about cold, but I can tell you that it was sweet.
Doubront gave up four runs, three earned, on four hits over six and one-third innings. Like Morales, he gave up multiple home runs. He gave up two: a three-run shot in the fifth and a solo shot to lead off the seventh. So, like Morales, all of his runs were unfortunately scored via the long ball. The unearned run scored as part of that first home run; Derek Jeter opened the inning by getting on base thanks to yet another error by Gomez. But unlike Morales, he eventually buckled down; those home runs bookended an actually decent performance. After that second home run and then a groundout, Albers replaced Doubront and pitched the rest of the inning. Mortensen came on to pitch the eighth and loaded the bases with one out; he was then replaced by Padilla, who thankfully ended the inning. And then Aceves pitched the ninth and gave up a solo shot in the process, but for the first time in at least several games, it didn’t matter because we won anyway!
We began the game quietly by going down in order in the first and in four in the second. We got on the board in the third, when Gomez doubled, Pedro Ciriaco singled, and Nava grounded into a double play that brought in Gomez. A very modest play, if you ask me. We went down in four in the fourth again and then played some more small ball in the fifth; Gomez popped out, Ciriaco singled, Nava reached on an error by McDonald, and then Punto hit a sac fly that brought in Ciriaco. We continued in the sixth; Gonzalez singled, Ross reached on an error by Jeter, Sweeney popped out, Gomez singled, and Ciriaco smacked a bases-clearing double that gave us the cushion we were looking for.
Run-wise, our big inning was the seventh. Gonzalez began it with a double. Then Ross lined out, and Sweeney tripled Gonzalez in, and Gomez doubled Sweeney in. Aviles came in to pinch-run for Gomez and scored on a double by Ciriaco. And then Ciriaco stole third and scored on an error.
So between the sixth and seventh, we sent the full lineup to the plate twice, once per inning, and scored seven runs. And that was the game right there. We posted seventeen hits to their six, and we made two errors to their four. (Obviously we shouldn’t have made any, but it is what it is.) Papi went two for four, Punto went two for three, Gonzalez went three for five, and Gomez went three for four, but the man of the hour was unquestionably Ciriaco, who went four for five with two doubles, two runs, four RBIs, and a stolen base. I’m telling you, it’s been a long time since we turned to a Pedro to lift us up and since we changed that name when he did, but it feels pretty good.
The win snapped our losing streak at five, it was our first win over the Yanks this year, and it puts us one game back up over .500. Did I mention that we beat the Yanks? This can not be overstated: it felt good. It felt really good.