Revenge is a dish best served cold. But I’m more partial to a different variety, one preferably served with lots of runs. Buchholz is now the only six-game winner in the Majors, obviously, and his ERA is 1.01. Yes, indeed. His ERA is only 0.001 above 1.00. He has pitched at least seven innings in all six of those starts, and he has accumulated at least six strikeouts in five of those games. He’s struck out a grand total of forty-seven batters so far. And he has allowed two runs at most in each of his starts. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.
It’s a shame Buchholz couldn’t stay in for the entire game. He threw 101 pitches after seven innings of work. Did I mention that those seven innings were shutout innings? He gave up three walks, two hits, and no runs. And let’s not forget about his eight strikeouts, of course.
His first strikeout came in the first; it was called and ended with a curveball. No strikeouts in the second, but it’s worth mentioning that it was a one-two-three inning that required three groundouts on ten pitches to finish. Buchholz gave up a single in the third, but his three outs all came via the K: one swinging on a fastball, one looking on a fastball, and one swinging on a curveball. He got another swinging strikeout on a curveball in the next frame. And he completed a textbook, three-pitch strikeout to end the fifth; it was another one-two-three inning, and it ended on a ninety-five mile-per-hour fastball. The sixth was yet another one-two-three inning ending with a called strike on a fastball clocked at ninety-six. Buchholz ended his start in the spirit in which he pitched it: with a three-pitch strikeout, called on a fast fastball.
It was most definitely Buchholz’s best start to date. Keep in mind, of course, that that doesn’t say much. Usually that means that what you’re describing wasn’t actually that good. In this case, it means that the general body of work to which you’re comparing what you’re describing wasn’t actually that bad. I still can’t get over the fact that his ERA is 1.01.
It took the efforts of both Wilson and Mortensen to pitch the eighth. Wilson gave up a single and an RBI triple in addition to a walk and two strikeouts; Mortensen secured the last out of the frame.
In the end, we provided a substantial cushion for the entire pitching staff. The difference between yesterday’s game and Monday’s game was the pitching performance. And a few extra runs for good measure.
The Jays’ staff was as horrendous as ours was glorious. Other than Ellsbury’s single, nothing happened in the first. The second began with two flyouts, but then Middlebrooks got hit and the Jays paid. Drew took a fastball for a ball and then got one he liked and laid into it, smacking it out to right for a two-run shot.
Gomes walked in the third, but nothing else happened. Then the fourth rolled around, and it was awesome. Napoli and Nava smacked back-to-back jacks. They both unleashed on the third pitches of their at-bats; Napoli got a changeup and Nava got a cutter, and the two were almost the same speed. Napoli hit his ball out to center, and Nava hit his out to left. It’s always a pleasure to do that double-take and then realize that you’re actually seeing two home runs, not simply replays of one hit earlier. We went down in order in the fifth. We had the bases loaded in the sixth with one out, but Drew ground into a double play to end the rally before it got started. Either way, at that point we could have just stopped playing, and we would have been fine.
But we didn’t. With two out in the seventh, Gomes walked, Pedroia singled, and Gomes scored on a wild pitch. Papi walked intentionally, and Napoli worked the count 3-0. He got a fastball and crushed it to left center. One swing. Three runs. If a game could be won by degrees, then the game was really, really won at that point.
We had two runners in scoring position in the eighth but did nothing with the opportunity. Not so in the ninth. Pedroia grounded out to lead it off, and then Carp got in on the long ball action. During that at-bat, he received nothing but sinkers. Four straight. He took the first two for balls, the third for a strike, and he homered on the fourth. Then Napoli doubled and scored on a single by Nava.
All told, we racked up eleven hits. Two of them were doubles, and four were home runs, two of which were Napoli’s. Papi’s double extended his hitting streak to twenty-two games, a career high. So more than half of our hits were for extra bases. We went two for eight with runners in scoring position and left six on base. But I really don’t think that there’s anything to complain about. It was just a good, old-fashioned slugfest. We won, 10-1. It felt good. And it felt right.
In other news, the B’s beat the Leafs, 4-1.