One of the reasons the Sox-Rangers series took so long is that they had to keep waiting for Adrian Gonzalez to finish his home run trots. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
So, yeah, there was this little matter of a baseball game last night between the Red Sox and the Rangers. For the Sox, it was an opportunity to push the Rays back another game in the Wild Card race. Had the Oakland Athletics not laid a gigantic egg (three grand slams, guys? REALLY?), it would have been an opportunity to open up a two-game lead against New York, but sadly they had to settle for maintaining a one-game cushion. However, with Andrew Miller on the mound, the expectation was that offense was going to be needed—and perhaps quite a lot of it.
Alexi Ogando's night, at least early on, was looking a lot like a "Three True Outcomes" kind of night: Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to open the game, followed by a sharp lineout by Jed Lowrie. However, Ogando was not nearly so lucky against batter number three—Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez, who has rediscovered his power stroke in Arlington, hit his fourth homer of the series, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead, and providing all the offense they would need that night.
At this point, you're probably scratching your head saying, "What? A shutout? With Miller on the mound?" Well, yes, that's neither a typo nor a cruel hoax being perpetrated by yours truly. Miller pitched a heck of a game: 6.1 innings of three-hit ball (all singles, by the way), allowing just two free passes against six strikeouts, and all of this on just 83 pitches.
There was a little trouble, however, as the Rangers threatened to put some runs on the board in the third, following a walk to Craig Gentry and an infield single by Ian Kinsler. However, the threat was quickly snuffed by a 5-4-3 double play. The other double play of the night came courtesy of a 2-6 combo. Once again, this is not, in fact, a typo or a hoax. The Sox actually pulled off a strike 'em out, throw 'em out! An actual baserunner was thrown out by a Sox catcher! So, perhaps this is the wacky world we find ourselves in post-"MEGAQUAKE." But we'll certainly enjoy the ride while it lasts!
So, yeah, the Rangers managed to get nothing done offensively, but the same could not be said for the Sox offense. Tonight, however, all of the damage was done via the longball. Following Gonzalez's homer in the first, David Ortiz followed up with a solo homer of his own to start the second inning. In the third inning, the Sox would add two more to the scoreboard following a Lowrie walk and another homer by Gonzalez. One of the fans of that second swing, that measured in at 448 feet? One Dustin Pedroia: "What’s it’s like? It’s awesome. It’s beautiful. I like home runs," he said, according to Peter Abraham. (Dear Adrian: Please keep the home run streak going for another, oh, 60 games or so? Thanks! —lone1c)
The remaining runs were courtesy of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who drove in Carl Crawford (again, not a typo). Ogando's four-inning night was not a good one: six earned runs, five Soxers K'd, four home runs, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a walk to the Sox's 3B. (I'm sorry. It had to be done.)
After the starters' departures, both bullpens put in yeomans' efforts, holding both sides scoreless—Scott Feldman for four innings and Mike Adams for one inning for the Rangers, and 2.2 hitless innings by Alfredo Aceves and Dan Wheeler for the Sox.
All in all, this was a very productive road trip by any measure. Going 6-2 on the road, particularly with three strong wins against a team that is a potential playoff opponent? Always a good thing. Always. And doing it against a team that has given the Sox fits in recent years? All the better.
Now it's back to Fenway. With Sunday's game smashed into Saturday courtesy of Irene (which sounds more like it should be the name of a spurned paramour of Harry Frazee than a deadly storm), we'll have yet another (potential) round of Death by Baseball this weekend, as the Sox take on the A's, and Wakefield continues on for another shot at you-know-what-that-I-won't-say-to-avoid-any-possible-jinxing.