BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was injured in a double play in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during the home opener on April 13, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Yesterday, knowing that the Sox had driven David Price out of the game after three innings, worked the count, scored some runs, and seen some good pitching from Josh Beckett in a win, it would have seemed like the perfect day.
The top of the first seemed like a pretty typical beginning for the Red Sox, with the first two batters making good contact off Josh Beckett. Darnell McDonald was able to run down the first ball in left, however, leaving Carlos Pena's double off the top of the scoreboard inconsequential.
The bottom of the first wasn't nearly so typical, because all-of-a-sudden the Red Sox were back to fighting out long at-bats. And while Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez would go down 1-2-3, Price left the inning with nearly 20 pitches on his arm. By the time he recorded the first out in the bottom of the second (after Kevin Youkilis blooped a single to center field), he was up to 35.
By that point, however, he was pitching with a lead. While the second inning would be the start of Josh Beckett's "dominance," it would come with a run, thanks to Kevin Youkilis' immobility allowing a ground ball to get into left for an RBI double. The rest of the game would prove a lot less productive for the Rays, as Beckett adapted to their ultra-aggressive style and had them swinging at borderline pitches, putting the ball in play but rarely with much velocity. And when they did put a charge in it--a long Evan Longoria fly ball here, a line drive to left or right there--Josh Beckett had his outfield doing good work behind him.
Meanwhile, the Sox had broken through against David Price in the third, loading the bases without an out and then scoring on an Adrian Gonzalez single, Kevin Youkilis sacrifice fly, and an "excuse me" swinging bunt from David Ortiz to a vacated left side of the infield that went for an RBI single. The inning would only come to a close when Cody Ross grounded into a double play, letting David Price leave both the inning and the game without too much damage.
The Sox would add a fourth run in the fourth, but it came at a high price. Jacoby Ellsbury succeeded in bringing Kelly Shoppach in, on via a double, with a base hit slapped into right field, but then disaster struck. Running on a 3-2 count to Dustin Pedroia, Ellsbury brought Reid Brignac in to cover the base. Pedroia hit the ball right up the middle--normally a hit, but with Brignac covering, the start of a double play. Ellsbury slid in attempting to break it up, and had Brignac come down full-force on his shoulder, leaving him in a great deal of pain and out for the rest of the game, if not much longer.
The game would settle down from there, with neither side allowing any runs until the eighth, when Joel Peralta came in and the Red Sox went nuts. Connecting with two doubles around a pair of walks, the Sox drove Peralta from the game and then went to town on his replacement in Josh Lueke, hitting four straight singles and a double in the process of scoring eight runs. By the time it was over, the Sox had taken a 12-1 lead.
Still, a big win, but at what cost?