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The Red Sox defeated Justin Verlander and the Tigers Tuesday night by a score of 6-3. The victory was due to a decent outing from Daniel Bard, as well as a key three-RBI double by Daniel Nava in the bottom of the fourth inning.
In a game that had all the potential for a great pitcher’s duel between two young hard throwers, the Red Sox offense decided to come out swinging.
David Ortiz started the hitting with a double in the second inning. Jarrod Saltalmacchia kept the ball rolling by hitting a single which sent Ortiz to third base. Mike Aviles grounded into what should have been an inning-ending double play, but Aviles hustled down the line to beat out the throw. Ortiz scored in the backdoor, putting the Sox up 1-0.
The offense really picked up in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kevin Youkilis led off the inning lining a single to center field. Following a Saltalamacchia strikeout, Aviles lofted a ball into shallow center, moving Youkilis up to second. Scott Podsednik continued to contribute offensively by roping a single of his own to load the bases. Nick Punto was a victim of a Verlander strikeout, leading to Daniel Nava stepping up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Verlander ran the count full on Nava and attempted to burn a 100 mph fastball by Nava, but Nava was able to send it down the left field line, scoring all three runners on a stand-up double, making the score 4-0.
Daniel Bard finished his night pitching only 5.1 innings. He struck out four and walked two, on 94 pitches. Bard showed great control of his fastball and slider at times, but after surrendering solo homeruns to Jhonny Peralta in the fifth and Prince Fielder in the sixth, he began to nibble at the corners. In Bard’s attempt to avoid offering up another long-ball, he walked a batter, which drew manager Bobby Valentine from the dugout to pull his starter from the game.
Bard has shown signs of being a dominant pitcher all year, but is still learning a great deal on what it means to be a starting pitcher. His stamina and durability are still a work in progress, but his ability to throw his pitches for strikes continues to improve, which bodes well for the Red Sox rotation.
David Ortiz once again proved to be a catalyst for this Red Sox offense. He went 3-4 with two doubles, a laser of a homerun over the Green Monster in the bottom of the seventh inning, and drove in two RBI. In a season where the team has been stung by the injury bug, Ortiz providing consistent offensive production isn’t just a good sight, it’s a necessity.
With the news of Dustin Pedroia missing about four weeks of action, the team is going to need production from everyone in the lineup, but guys like Ortiz, Gonzalez, and Youkilis have to be the leaders during this trying time. If they can continue to swing the bat well, the rest of the lineup will follow and this team will be able to make up ground in the competitive AL East. Ortiz’s early season success has been a bright spot on an otherwise dreary season, and if this team is going to be involved in the playoff picture at the end of the season, Ortiz will need to continue on his steady pace.
Justin Verlander may not have had his best outing, but he was able to make his 53rd consecutive start where he made it through six innings. Only Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, and Catfish Hunter have a longer streak than Verlander. In an era where pitch count is everything, and starters don’t last as long as Gibson, Carlton, and Hunter would game in and game out, Verlander’s feat is quite impressive. His consistent performance over the past few years, coupled with his durability create the perfect pitching prototype.
Tuesday, he allowed five earned runs on ten hits while walking just one batter. It was only the fifth time in Verlander’s career where he has allowed five runs on ten hits. That stat alone exemplifies just how good Verlander has been over these past few years. Luckily, this was one of those nights where he wasn’t completely on.
The bullpen was busy as Bard was taken out by Valentine with only one out in the sixth. Rich Hill, Scott Atchison, Andrew Miller, Vincente Padilla, and Alfredo Aceves combined for 4.2 innings pitched, giving up four hits, one earned run, one walk, and struck out two. After a little more than a 30 minute rain delay in the bottom of the eighth, Aceves took the hill in the top of the ninth. He recorded his 12th save of the season, as the Red Sox gained a winning record for the first time all season.