Ellsbury Magic: Jacoby's Homers Help Sox Down Orioles

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 20: Umpire Mike Winters and catcher Craig Tatum #15 of the Baltimore Orioles look on as Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox follows his solo home run during the third inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Red Sox won today, taking their second straight series win out of the All-Star break, and it was...odd.

The oddness started with Andrew Miller, who had a no-hitter going for the first four innings. And yet, from watching the game, you would not even have known that the Red Sox had the lead at the time. Miller had allowed a walk in the first (along with picking up his first strikeout in over nine innings), and then managed to load the bases with one out after giving up three more in the second. A sharp-hit double play ball got him out of it, but it was not a pretty start.

What was nice was seeing a home run from Jacoby Ellsbury to give the Sox a 1-0 lead in the third, some hits from Adrian Gonzalez (he would have four before the night), and a Carl Crawford double that set up the second Sox run of the game in the fourth. Not to mention that, starting over J.D. Drew, Josh Reddick picked up two hits and a walk. Hopefully we'll only see more of him. 

It was also nice to see Andrew Miller lock it down some in the last few innings, striking out a pair of batters to start off the fourth, and only giving up one more walk to go with a pair of hits before being pulled with two outs in the sixth. A shutout performance, a good finish, but not a reassuring day necessarily for a team which has some decisions to make on their rotation over the next ten days.

It was still just 2-0 headed to the seventh inning, but then Jacoby Ellsbury decided to give an encore performance of his earlier bomb, hitting the ball just a bit farther over the right field wall this time to make it 3-0. The Sox threatened to really blow things open in the eighth when they loaded the bases with zero outs, but only one run came across when Carl Crawford(!) drew a bases-loaded walk. 

Still, the 4-run lead would be more than enough, because as they've done so many times this year, the Sox were able to turn to a combination of Matt Albers, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon to get the job done in the late innings. It's a 1-2-3 punch the likes of which the Sox haven't had since Delcarmen - Okajima - Papelbon in 2007, and they prroved their worth again Wednesday, recording nine straight outs in the quietest of fashions. 

The Sox will head home with a 4-2 record in the second half despite starting Tim Wakefield, Kyle Weiland, John Lackey, and Andrew Miller twice. They'll see if John Lackey can keep up his impressive performance (Scutaro's three-run first be damned!) against the Mariners Friday night.

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