Confidence is the key. Feeling confident and channeling that confidence into finding a groove is how to get out of a slump. We’re not necessarily out of the woods yet, but we’re taking positive steps to get there. We’ve had some nailbiter wins recently; it’s nice to to back to coming out on top and then staying on top. It felt easy and effortless last night, like we started the season that way and never stopped. Here’s to keeping that going.
Ellsbury singled on the game’s third; one out later, Pedroia walked, and Papi worked the count 2-2 thanks to two balls and two fouls. He got a curveball he could hit, and he hit it. He sent the ball beyond the fence in right center field for a three-run shot, just like that.
We went down in order in the second; Middlebrooks singled, but it didn’t matter thanks to Lavarnway’s double play. Gomes walked in the third and scored on a single by Papi. Middlebrooks’s walk was our only damage in the fourth.
Dempster gave up five runs on eight hits while walking six and striking out two over the course of four and two-thirds innings. So, on average, he gave up more than one walk, one hit, and one run every inning. That is not what I call a good start.
He issued two consecutive walks to lead off the second; both runners advanced on a groundout, and a force out was successfully converted at home. But he gave up a single that scored his first run right after that. He was able to pitch himself out of a bases-loaded situation in the third. He gave up another run thanks to a double-single combination.
He ran into real trouble in the fifth. He gave up a double that turned into a run two groundouts later. He issued a walk that turned into a double thanks to a steal, and the runner scored on a single. That first base-steal-single-run sequence then repeated itself. And that was when Mortensen came in, gave up a single, and ended the inning.
Dempster was lucky that we scored three runs of our own in the top of the frame. Gomes and Pedroia hit back-to-back doubles, scoring one run. Papi grounded out, which moved Pedroia to third, and Napoli’s walk put runners at the corners. Nava’s sac fly brought Pedroia home, Middlebrooks’s single moved Napoli to second, and he scored on a single by Lavarnway, who was thrown out at third.
So each team had scored three runs in the fifth inning alone. Even if we hadn’t scored again for the rest of the game, and provided that the Twins didn’t either, we would have won. Each team had scored in two other innings before the fifth; the Twins had scored two prior runs, but we had scored four, so we were already on top. It stayed that way in the sixth; neither team scored, thanks in the bottom of the inning to the combined efforts of Mortensen and Breslow.
We blew the game wide open in the seventh. Pedroia walked to lead it off, and after working the count 2-1, Papi had himself a multi-homer game! He hit the ball again beyond the fence in right center field, again with at least one man on base. It was a fine piece of hitting. And it was made even better when Nava went back-to-back. The Twins made a pitching change that did no good; Nava hit a solo shot in the very next at-bat. His ball also ended up beyond the fence in right center field. I love back-to-back jacks; it’s so much fun reveling in the fact that, at first, you think it’s just a replay until you realize that we actually powered our way through.
So that was another four runs right there, and Breslow kept the lid on the Twins in the bottom of the inning. We went down in order in the eighth, and Wilson did a fine job. It looked like we might get yet another rally going in the ninth when Papi and Napoli worked back-to-back walks and Nava singled to load the bases with nobody out. Middlebrooks struck out, and Papi did score on a sac fly by Lavarnway; I guess we weren’t finished quite yet. The bottom of the inning was pretty uneventful.
So we ended up winning, 12-5. It was a slugfest, all right, and we buried the Twins with our massive power. Both teams had an almost equivalent number of hits and walks, but our hitters were better at taking advantage of our opportunities, and our pitchers were better at closing the deal; we’ve seen recently the effects that that can have first-hand. That’s basically all there is to it.