Lester made one mistake over the course of seven innings. One mislocated fastball to Mark Trumbo in the second inning that turned into a solo home run seemed to be the deciding moment in the game as the Sox failed to get runs... or hits off of Haren. It took until the third inning for Crawford to break up Haren's no-hitter, but he was stranded on second (after a stolen base). Scutaro singled in the fifth, but was left at first. The aces battled hard, both going seven innings, though Lester could have definitely gone longer if needed. His pitch count when he came out of the game was only 93. With a score of 3-1 when Jonny came out, I'm not sure why Tito felt this was a comfortable lead, knowing the arsonistic tendencies of our cowboys in the pen, but the gamble paid off. I mean, he still came out with a lead so he was in line for the win. This is what went down:
In the 6th, with one out, CRW doubles to right on a ball that hit off that part of the seats that juts onto the field. With two outs, Ernie broke one of my cardinal rules of pitching and swung at the first pitch. He's lucky that he ended up with a single to left, because I would have ripped out his hair if he hadn't. CRW came around to score on a play that was so much closer than anyone expected it to be. Has Jacoby slowed down, or have I forgotten that Wells has a good arm? Either way. Papi followed up with a single, putting Ernie on third. Lowrider drove him in with a single of his own. It was the first time in the game we had more than one hit in an inning, and we made it sting for Haren. I'm glad, because Jonny really deserved to win this one. I mean, the kid was just rolling. Despite six hits, he still racked up eleven strikeouts. Those K-Men were busy last night. I also noticed they have a new sign for A-Gon, obviously using the "I" from "Ortiz" as their hyphen. Made me sort of smile. Just sayin'. So Crawford singled in the 7th and came around on a high wall-ball double for Salty. Dan Haren was on the verge of being done.
As much as I love a pitcher's duel... and believe me, I do LOVE a pitcher's duel, the 8th is where it got interesting. Mostly because it stopped being a pitcher's duel and became a slugfest. Looking at the final score does not give you a good indication of how tight this game was. Bard came in and had a clean inning. How many games that Lester has started this year have featured Bard out of the pen? All of them? I'm pretty sure it's all of them. I digress. Bottom of the 8th, Haren's pitch count was already a little high, but Scioscia and his silly face ran him back out there. Two pitches in, Ernie belts a home run and suddenly, Haren is gone. It's fine, because Papi greets Takahashi with a home run of his own. Back to back! And suddenly, I feel that maybe Adrian... JUST maybe.... could fill in some of the gaps in my heart left by Manny. Too much to hope for? We'll see. Two batters later, with Lowrider on and Drew out, Scutaro hits his OWN home run to left center. The ball cleared the wall, but it looked like a fan reached over and grabbed it, so Scioscia and his silly face (yup, I'm aware I already said that) demanded a review. As anyone who's ever sat up on the Monster can tell you, it's incredibly hard to lean over that wall. Home run! Hooray! 7-1 Sox.
Pap made it interesting in the 9th, but what else is new? After giving up two runs, he buckled down and got some outs. 7-3 Sox is your ballgame, folks. I also want to point out, because I haven't said it in a while.... I love Eck and all his cheese. All of it. The high cheese, the nasty cheese, the dirty cheese, the cheese with hair... love it. Still, I hope Remy gets well soon. Next up Santana vs. Beckett. Let's keep this going, Joshua Patrick. Ok?