“Oh man,” I muttered to myself as I rolled out of bed Tuesday morning. I could not stop thinking about the tragic loss the Sox suffered Monday night on a Brock Holt throwing error. It was a game the Red Sox certainly could have won as they carried a 4-3 lead into the eighth inning. This was the type of loss a crazed Sox fan such as myself loses sleep over. The flow of irrational thoughts began to surge through my brain as I thought “Oh no, last night’s loss was such a momentum killer. How will we rebound from this? How long will this losing streak last? Pretty soon the Yankees will pass us in the AL East. Before you know it, we will be in the basement and out of the playoff picture.” I tried to calm myself with some positive thoughts. Then the cruel realization popped into my head: “Doug Fister is pitching tonight.” Face palm. Depressed sigh.
Doug Fister stepped on the mound with a record of 2-6 and an ERA of 5.56. Not the numbers a fan wants to see when he knows his team needs a bounce-back win. But I remembered Fister pitching later in the day, had a game earlier in the season when he threw 7 2/3 innings while giving up just two runs against Cleveland. Good memory swiftly replaced by bad in his more recent start against them when he lasted just 4 1/3 innings while giving up seven hits and five earned runs. Certainly not an assuring stat line.
As much as I tried to avoid it, 7 pm finally rolled around. I had a brief moment of joy when the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a Hanley Ramirez RBI single. That abruptly ended in the bottom half of the inning as Francisco Lindor took Fister deep on just his third pitch of the game. “Doug Fister are you kidding me?! How can you not hold onto a lead for more than three pitches?!” I shouted as I pulled my own hair out. About to give up on him, then… BANG! Fister silenced his critics — including me — with a nearly perfect nine innings.
Fister looked like the guy who shut down Cleveland on July 31st at Fenway in a dominant 7 2/3 inning effort with a 6-2 win. In fact, he was better than that. Fister successfully did what every good sinker-ball pitcher does. Keep the ball down in the strike zone. All night it seemed like he got ahead of batters 0-2. Doug induced 13 ground-ball outs which is a clear sign he was on his game. As a guy who can’t blow many guys away with his fastball, ranging from 88-92 mph, commanding his fastball down in the zone will always be essential for Doug’s success. On Tuesday night, he did just that. His final pitching line was: nine innings, one hit, one earned run, two walks, six strikeouts and a win. It was truly one of the best outings by any pitcher in the MLB of the 2017 season, Well done Doug, well done.