At least bested Joshie:
Though he was certainly no Matsuzaka:
He put in a workmanlike seven innings, at least from the glimpses I snuck of it during Easter dinner / after-dinner dominoes. Every time I turned on the television, it looked the same--3 to 1 Red Sox in the bottom of some inning, while Curt swung his big body slowly around in his topheavy motion, his face set in a look of grim determination. I had no doubt that it would be thus--both a grave effort and also a ferociously effective one.
In the course of socializing I missed both of Papi's home runs and whatever home run Schilling gave up, in fact, missed any play whatsoever until the bottom of the ninth inning, when Jonathan stood on the mound with his eyes flashing, his shoulders drawn up in that way he has, his lips drawn into thin lines then pursed. It's a look like he could bring down rain and lightning, but instead he will toy with mortals using an exploding 96 mph fastball. And then storm aggressively around the infield after each strikeout, returning to the mound to collect himself for the next victim.
To say I enjoy watching all this is a massive understatement, natch.
The ESPN cameras and K-Zone Technology (tm) took especial loving care in illustrating the crazy array of angles from which Jonathan's pitches arrived at the plate in that one-two-three ninth. This had the effect of illuminating both the surgical precision with which Jonathan was making each batter look like a total fool, and the surehanded skill with which Jason Varitek was ordering, anticipating and cleanly receiving each pitch.
One of the myriad pleasures of watching Jonathan pitch is the palpable excitement he has for it, the way you can almost see his heart pounding as the last batter grits his teeth and swings and he stalks toward Varitek with his teeth bared, shouting at the catcher how good he is. In an older player it might be distasteful, but in Jonathan it's as mesmerizing watching him caught up in his own moment as it is watching him do the work itself.
"Now that was a big league save," is how Jon Miller described it from the broadcast booth. And it was a big-league win today--guys, as they say, stepped up, and got it done. It was organized and professional.
My dad called just as Jonathan, still far from calmed down, started perhaps overzealously high-fiving teammates on his way across the field to the dugout. After he and I exchanged the obligatory "wow"s, my dad pointed out that "they did exactly what they said they weren't going to do--they brought him in with a one-run lead in the eighth and made him get five freakin' outs."
True. And it is frustrating to be at .500 when you feel like the team could definitely have pulled at least one more win out of the opening week than they did. But so far, I've seen a little early-season rust, maybe, but enough sparkling potential to make me a complete Polyanna, at least for now. There have been these little glimpses now and then, of how things could be when they're hitting on all cylinders--Matsuzaka's nine in a row on Thursday, Curt's rebound from his sluggish Opening Day, Papi's rebound from his mini-slump in the Royals series, and Papelbon in the 8th and 9th tonight--to make me a complete believer in this team already.
Now it's time to get them home, and get things kicked off for real.