Cook found himself involved in a pitcher’s duel. Think about that for a second. Aaron Cook, whose health was questionable and who wasn’t sure himself whether he’d be of much use to any ballclub around Spring Training, found himself locked in a pitcher’s duel that was tied at one until the bottom of the eighth.
It was amazing. He gave up only one run on five hits through seven innings and didn’t walk anybody. He also didn’t strike anyone out, but honestly it didn’t really seem to make that much of a difference. His fastball, curveball, and sinker were positively out of this world, even if his slider wasn’t so great. And he just mowed right through the Other Sox as if they weren’t even there.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get the win, but the team did, and that’s what really counts. Padilla was the one who got the W for his work in the eighth, a shutout inning in advance of Aceves’s shutout inning in the ninth. But I’ll get to how all that came about later.
So as I said, the game was tied at one until the bottom of the eighth. In the top of the inning, Kevin Youkilis of all people singled and scored on a throwing error after a groundout, and may I say it was mighty strange seeing him in that uniform. But he got a very well-deserved standing ovation before his first at-bat. So Cook’s one run wasn’t even earned. That’s how good he was. Anyway, we answered in the bottom of the inning with three consecutive singles that brought one in. And then, as you can imagine, neither team put up much of a threat.
Until the bottom of the eighth, when Crawford, back from his extended stay on the DL, and Papi worked back-to-back walks. And then Gonzalez saw four straight fastballs. He took the first for a ball, the second for a strike, and the third for a ball. The fourth, the fastest at ninety-three miles per hour, he walloped way out there to the Monster for the home run that sealed the deal. It was just as well, because it was Gonzalez who made that error that brought Youkilis home. Two outs later, Aviles singled in another run, and that was it.
We won, 5-1. Ellsbury went hitless, but Crawford had a single. Gonzalez and Ross both went two for four, and Ciriaco continued his hot streak with a three-for-four performance. Papi surpassed Ted Williams’s record of nine consecutive games in which he hit and walked with his tenth last night.
But the point is that we won in spectacular fashion. We preserved a tie very late into the game and then broke it ourselves with power and then didn’t squander our new lead. We just had to wait for the right opportunity. For us, given the way we’ve been playing, that says a lot.