What a game. It could have been so good. It could have been really, really great. And yet ultimately it was just so, so bad.
Lester, for his part, was great. His numbers don’t even tell half the real story of how his start went. His line says that he gave up four runs on six hits over the course of six and two-thirds innings and that he walked two and struck out four and that he threw 116 pitches, sixty-six of which were strikes. But as decent as that line is for Lester, it’s not an accurate reflection of how truly good he was.
He was really great. He completely shut out the Rangers through five. He faced the minimum through four, and they would have been four perfect innings if he hadn’t given up a single in the second, which ended with a double play. He finally faced one above the minimum in the fifth after allowing a single; unlike the fourth, the fifth did not end with a double play. The sixth and seventh were when the Rangers got to him. So essentially almost his entire line was created during those two innings alone, which, as I said, is obviously not an accurate reflection of how truly excellent he really was. I mean, his cut fastball was as good as I’ve ever seen it, and he mixed in his other pitches to provide a rich variety of utter devastation for Texas.
He allowed a double to lead off the sixth. He notched a called strikeout for the first out of the inning, and then the run scored on a single. A groundout secured the second out but moved the runner to second, and another single brought it in. The inning ended with a flyout. The seventh was very similar; Lester induced a flyout for the frame’s first out and then gave up a walk, a single, and a sac fly that scored his third run. Then he allowed another walk and was relieved by Melancon, who gave up a single that allowed his inherited runner to score, which accounts for Lester’s final run.
Clearly Lester fell apart late. He allowed all of his walks, all of his runs, and most of his hits over the course of two innings; those two walks both came in the seventh. But before that, how good was he. Yeah. Pretty good.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the offense, which was shut out through six. We headed into the bottom of the seventh with a four-run deficit. And I was thinking that it was going to be one of those nights. Until we ultimately, finally turned it on just in time for us to think that we might actually be able to pull out a win in this one.
Three runs scored in the seventh put us within one. There was a single with one out by Salty, and a trip to first on an error with two out by Kalish. And then a pitching change. And then the huge and enormous power of Middlebrooks. It was one of those times where you knew we desperately needed something as drastic as a monster shot, and so naturally if you really need it you question whether you’re going to get it. And then you do get it and it’s almost just surreal. Except that it happened, and it was literally a monster shot because he hit it to left field and all of a sudden we scored three runs on one swing of the bat and suddenly we were right back in it.
Except that the relief corps couldn’t keep us in that position. Which is pathetically funny and sadly ironic since the whole point of a relief corps is to preserve leads.
Melancon gave up a walk and a single that increased the deficit to two in the eighth. And we didn’t score in the bottom of the eighth. Breslow was put in for the ninth, and he hit a batter and induced a popout before being replaced by Tazawa, who got a strikeout and then allowed a single that brought in his inherited runner. That increased the deficit to three. So after we swung the momentum back in our direction so late in the game, after we rallied to pull it together after having done absolutely nothing for most of it, after Middlebrooks powered us right back in there and made Texas’s lead unsafe, we were right back where we started in ever sense: with a loss. Salty singled in the bottom of the ninth, but then there was a double play, and we ended up going down in order.
The final score was 6-3. At least it wasn’t 6-0. But after not scoring for almost the entire game and then coming back so late and then ultimately losing, it’s a very, very tough one to swallow.
And as far as Pedroia not checking his swing in the ninth, he checked his swing. First base umpire Paul Nauert was wrong. I have absolutely no idea what he was looking at, but it sure wasn’t Pedroia, who was a mile off from a swing at least.