In the first game of the day-night doubleheader, the Red Sox picked up three hits and one walk, including one homer. They won 3-1.
In the second game, the Sox picked up three hits and one walk, including two homers. They lost 6-2.
Now, setting aside for now that this is just another example in a worryingly long list of the recent offensive downturn that has left the Sox with an 11-10 record dating back to the end of July, let's see what made the difference.
- Sequencing -- There's something to be said for dumb luck. When Jacoby Ellsbury hit his home run in the first game, the other two hits had come right before, making it a three-run shot. In the second game, Ellsbury and Tek both went deep without anybody on. It's what you'd expect with only two other baserunners, but still.
- Defense -- Primarily that of Jed Lowrie, who was partially responsible for one failed attempt at catching a runner at home, and completely responsible for a second one which came on a rundown following a pickoff attempt. Of course, he also started the first triple play the Sox have pulled off in 17 years, so I suppose there's that.
- Bullpen availability -- From Bard and Papelbon to Albers and Morales is a pretty steep dropoff. Albers was made to go two innings, and was hurt by ground balls in the second, while Bard and Papelbon just plain shut things down.
- A Non-Catch -- This one's hard to really complain too much about given how close and amazing it seemed, but Desmond Jennings' leaping grab at the wall was not a clean catch. The ball caught wall, and it's possible that could've gone a long way in unsettling Niemann early.
Ultimately, though, the catch was ruled an out, the Sox did fail to get the runner at home twice, and the resulting 1-to-3 run swing led to some rather looser bullpen management thanks to the doubleheader situation.
Though the final score makes it less-than-obvious, this should be acknowledged as another pitchers' duel. Jeff Niemann was just as amazing as he was the last time he shut down the Sox, and we can be glad that it seems unlikely that he'll have a chance to factor into the postseason. Meanwhile, Erik Bedard did the best he could with a defense behind him that allowed two runs to score in an inning where there was only one real hit (and no walks) allowed. Altogether the Seattle import continued to prove effective, throwing six innings and allowing just one earned on seven hits, six strikeouts, and zero walks. The result was negative, but he is the last person who should be blamed.
The Sox go for the series win in what is now just--God help me--eight hours. Hopefully the Sox will keep doing that winning thing they've done in almost every Lackey start in recent memory.