Going into tonight's matchup against the AL West-leading Texas Rangers, Boston had dropped three of four against the Minnesota Twins, and had looked pretty lousy even in the one win. And with Texas putting Yu Darvish on the mound against the rapidly declining Aaron Cook, more pain appeared to lie ahead for the Red Sox. So of course the Red Sox put up six runs against the Japanese ace, and Aaron Cook held the Rangers to one run on six hits. Baseball continues to be weird.
Cook was Good Aaron Cook tonight, getting grounders and avoiding trouble all night. He's still definitely the Sox' sixth-best starting option right now, but with the status of Josh Beckett's back still unclear, he may have earned himself another start before getting shuffled off into long relief. Junichi Tazawa finished things off, looking pretty good with the exception of a long homer by Adrian Beltre. Which will happen, because Beltre always loved that left-field wall. Sigh.
The really encouraging sign in this game (and yeah, we do seem to say that every third game or so) was the offense's approach against Yu Darvish. Every member of the lineup reached base at least once against the big righty, and they did so by waiting out counts and driving the pitches they wanted. Of the 34 hitters Darvish faced, only eight saw two or fewer pitches, and four of those got first-pitch hits. It was a sign of the things this offense is capable of when it's not beating itself with early swings and weak grounders.
The top of the order in particular was excellent, with Dustin Pedroia hitting three doubles off Darvish and stealing a base, Carl Crawford adding two more doubles and picking up three RBI, and Adrian Gonzalez driving in three more. For at least one night, the top of the order looked exactly like it had been drawn up in the long-ago 2010 offseason. Crawford's looked like himself lately, and it's really been fun to watch. The key, as it's been all season, is whether they can keep it going for any decent length of time.
So here the Sox sit, back at .500 for approximately the millionth time this season. And they got there by simply unloading upon one of the best teams in the league. I simply don't know what to make of these guys. If they could play like this every night, we would have some very boring (although fun to write) analysis going on around here. But I imagine I'd be happier. As it is, I feel like we've heard this story before. Boston gets a good pitching performance, their offense breaks out the whuppin' sticks, and everyone goes home happy. Then they lose the next two via impatient hitting and late-inning tragedy.
But who knows. Maybe this time Lucy actually will hold the football. We'll see tomorrow night.