We have the weather to thank for the extra day off. Back in action, it seems that the extra rest did us good. Because we ended up on the pleasant end of a pitcher’s duel thanks to some timely production.
It was a real nailbiter. Lester was being matched pitch for pitch. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits, one walk, and five K’s. His ERA, if you can believe it, is below 1.50. Small sample size or no small sample size, that is ridiculous. And don’t even get me started on his cut fastball. Or his efficiency. He threw exactly one hundred pitches, sixty-three of which were strikes and most of which, strikes or not, were awesome. Lester was a master. Especially when he put on quite the show with four one-two-three innings. It was like he and the ball were in constant communication, and the ball was doing exactly what he wanted it to do. Tampa Bay wouldn’t have stood a chance if it weren’t for David Price holding his own in the meantime.
The suspense was awful. This was a classic pitcher’s ballgame. It was one of those games that was just a really good, old-fashioned baseball game. Of course, it’s easy to say that when you’re the ones winning. Anyway, then it came down to the relief corps. And both relief corps were so effective that the game went into extras. Bailey took care of the eighth. Hanrahan got put in for the ninth but was taken out after having failed to record an out because he recorded two walks instead. Uehara ended the inning instead; three up, three down, and into extras. I have to say, the relievers were in top form. Being able to count on your relievers as you count on your starter is not a luxury that most, or even many, teams can afford. We managed to put it together, and it comes in extremely handy precisely in situations like this, when the whole game is basically a contest to see whose pitchers blink first and whose hitters will be astute enough to catch it when it happens.
Tazawa pitched the tenth and picked up the win. The tenth was essentially when the game was won because it had been tied at one until that point. Lester was the first to allow a run; he gave up a single to open the third, and the single turned into a run when he allowed a double. It was the only extra-base hit that Lester allowed. (The only other extra-base hit that the Rays got was another double off of Tazawa.)
We didn’t catch up until the fifth; two outs into it, David Ross worked the count full. Three of the first six pitches of the at-bat were balls, and three were fouled off. The seventh pitch was an eighty-five mile-per-hour changeup that he crushed beyond the Monster. It was quite the clutch solo shot; without it, who knows whether we would have won? Perhaps we’d still be playing; maybe out biggest achievement would have been to eventually tie it at one later in the game.
And then there were ten. Innings, that is. Salty came in to pinch-hit for Ross and, ironically, struck out. But then Ellsbury singled, stole second, and moved to third on a throwing error. Okay, so maybe we had some help from the Rays as well. Because without that throwing error, Ellsbury would not have been on third. And he would not have been able to score on Victorino’s single, despite the obvious shift, during the very next at-bat. Game over. 2-1. We win. Our first walkoff of the year, and it feels good.
In other news, the B’s lost to the Canes, 4-2.