Some might call last night’s game a loss. The box scores, for one, and the standings.
But a few months from now, looking back, it just might feel like a win.
Daisuke Matsuzaka didn’t come away with a W for his tally. The offense was pitifully silent backing him up, and the team’s defensive errors (particularly the ones that weren’t scored that way) did him no favors. But Dice-K’s return was a solid one. 50 of 80 pitches were for strikes, and that count of 80 was the lowest pitch count through five innings that Dice-K has ever thrown in the Majors.
Eventually, Matsuzaka let up four runs over five. Yet the real damage could have been stopped short (so to speak) if Lugo had managed to turn a double play. Had that inning ended there, the three Sox runs would have tied the game instead of losing it by a margin.
Had the inning ended there, the Sox might have come away with a win in spite of the fact that Ortiz, Youkilis, Bay, and Lugo were all 0-for the night, and that other than Varitek (whose RBI single was ruled a hit after the game ended), the whole team went hitless with runners in scoring position.
In point of fact, Varitek’s at-bats made up nearly the whole of Boston’s offense last night, accounting for both Boston RBIs and an un-earned third run; his 2nd inning homer was his eighth of the season, tying him for first among Major League catchers.
Pedroia came away with two hits as well, and Lowell hit a key double… and that was it. Yet the Sox could have won. They almost did.
All this could be seen from the down side, of course: ‘sloppy play blows another game, as pitching, defense and offense all fall short.’ But that’s only one side of the coin.
Last night, they were one missed double-play from a possible win even though the biggest bats on the team were nearly silent. Even though they were facing one of the top pitchers in the game. And even though their starting pitcher was just back from the DL, still carrying a double-digit ERA.
Matsuzaka showed control and precision well beyond his own usual standards. He kept his pitch count low. He threw first-pitch strikes. Did he win? No. But his pitching last night said he’s back.
Daniel Bard pitched a clean 9th, which can only be a good sign for the team. While the biggest bats were having a rare off-night, offense came from unexpected quarters: Varitek hit every ball hard, and even his one out came off a drive caught against the wall. That too is a great turn for Boston.
It was a loss. But a loss like that one promises wins ahead.
I’ll take it.