Not often will a pitcher give up eight runs, sit in a clubhouse for a couple hours, then sit before a handful of reporters and say, “I felt unbelievable.” Brad Penny did last night.
Penny’s line: three innings, eight runs, six hits, five walks, one strikeout, one home run
Penny’s opening quote: “I felt great. I haven’t had that kind of stuff in a while. The walks killed me tonight.”
Penny’s explanation: “I don’t know. That’s uncharacteristic for me. I don’t usually walk a lot of people. I got that one out of the way, I guess.”
Penny could afford to feel good, and not only because the Red Sox bailed him out with a newly explosive offense and a shutdown bullpen. Penny produced a few pitching lines like the one above last season, but last night felt much, much different.
“Last year was a lot harder to take,” Penny said. “When you pitch and do bad and you’re hurting, it’s a whole different story. Tonight, my velocity was consistent. I felt great. I felt unbelievable tonight.
“Stuff-wise, I felt great. My breaking ball was good. I didn’t get to throw too many splits, because I was 2-1, 3-1 to everyone. I had a great curveball. My fastball, I felt great with it today.”
He did hit 95 miles per hour with regularity on the Fenway Park radar gun. Even the pitch that did him in the most — the one Nick Markakis crushed for a grand slam in the seven-run second — Penny felt good about. The curveball dropped below Markakis’s knees, and with some bite.
“I watched the video,” Penny said. “I think he was sitting on it. Usually they don’t put their front foot down first. He was waiting back on it. He hit a great pitch.”
Penny got out of the third after allowing a single and a walk, but walked the leadoff hitter in the fourth, and he was done. He watched a procession of relievers holds Baltimore scoreless and salvage his first Fenway start, and he savored the comeback afterward.
“That’s a first for me,” Penny said. “Other teams I played on, down 7-0 in the second, it’s over. You feel a lot better about an outing like that when the team comes back and wins the game.”