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How many times this year have we seen one inning, just one inning, ruin an entire night.  How many times.  My guess would be way too many.  But what can you do? Especially if it’s your starter and it’s early in the game? You can’t exactly take him out in the middle of the first; that would be a complete and total disaster.  You have to back him, for better or for worse.  So even though he allowed five runs in the first inning, we were sticking with Paul Byrd.

Turns out those were the only runs he would allow all night.  The rest of his outing was spectacular.  Six and two-thirds innings’ worth of work produced five runs on nine hits with four walks and no strikeouts, but believe me, that’s spectacular for Paul Byrd.  Delcarmen pitched the last out of the seventh, and it took him just two pitches to retire the batter.  Bowden had himself a good eighth inning.

Five runs isn’t terrible.  It seems like a lot when someone scores that many runs early in the game in a single inning, but really five runs isn’t that bad.  If we scored about half the runs last night that we did in either of our last two games with Baltimore, we would’ve at least tied it up.  But no.  We scored one run when V-Mart grounded out to first to plate Ellsbury in the eighth.  That was it.  Thank you, Zack Greinke.  Notice the sarcasm.

Pedroia doubled and stole, and Ellsbury stole.  And V-Mart did have a hit, extending his very quiet hitting streak to twenty-one games, during which he’s just been on fire.  He’s currently batting .299.  That’s it for highlights from last night.

Curt Schilling has officially decided not to run for senate.  To be honest, I didn’t think he would.

So what does it all mean.  Well, first of all, it means that we’re six games behind the Yankees, who just became the first team to clinch a playoff spot.  And that means that winning the division will be that much more difficult.  Not, as the New York Daily News says, impossible, but just more difficult.  Think about it.  Aside from our series in the Bronx, we have eight games left to play.  There is no way the Yankees are winning all eight, and there is no way we’re losing all eight.  And there is no way the Yankees will not lose at least once when we win.  But even if we don’t end up winning the division, we’re still in great shape.  Teams that sit back, relax, and count the days until October don’t perform nearly as well as the teams that actually have something to continue to play for.  Last night also means that Tito is going to have to ramp up his usual managerial genius to configure our starting rotation for the playoffs.  It’ll probably be Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, and Dice-K, though not necessarily in that order.  Last night means that we reduce our magic number! We are now that much closer to officially clinch what was unofficially clinched for a very long time: a playoff spot.  It doesn’t matter whether you win the Wild Card or the division.  As long as you get to October, the second season, you’re gold.  And finally, last night obviously means that we need to step it up against Zack Greinke.  But we can table that issue until next season.  Zack Greinke will be watching us from the comfort of his television, so we have plenty of time to think about how to light him up.

AP Photo
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