In a series that featured a little bit of everything, the Boston Red Sox came out on top winning the final two games against the New York Yankees 4-3 and 8-5 after losing the opening contest 4-1. It wasn’t always pretty, and conditions were definitely not of prime baseball weather, but as always the two rivals battled it out in three exciting match ups, leaving fans with a taste of what’s to come during the rest of the regular season.
In Friday night’s game, Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang hurled a complete game 2-hitter, and stifled Red Sox batters all night while scattered showers rained down on the Fenway faithful in the 4-1 Yankees victory. The two hits he allowed could very easily have been outs. J.D. Drew’s solo homerun that came in the 5th inning was a very catchable ball that RF Bobby Abreau misplayed, and let fall into the Sox bullpen for their only run on the night. The other hit came on a Coco Crisp bunt single in the 9th inning that was a very close play at first.
“I felt especially good about this because I threw the ball well here in Boston and never pitched well here,” Wang said through a translator.
The big blow for the Yankees came on a homerun by Jason Giambi off of Sox veteran reliever Mike Timlin in the 7th inning. Timlin worked the count full before leaving an 88 mph fastball belt high that Giambi took to dead center field underneath the flagpole at Fenway Park. The blast put the Yankees ahead for good 2-1, and they would add another run the same inning and an insurance run in the 9th.
Saturday afternoon’s match-up featured Josh Beckett making his first start at Fenway Park of the year. Beckett, who struggled in his season debut vs. Toronto, looked like he was back in form while working 6 2/3 innings during the 4-3 victory, striking out 5 Yankees batters. Manny Ramirez led the offensive charge with his 492 career homerun and 3 RBI’s on the afternoon. With his next homerun, Ramirez will tie Fred McGriff and Lou Gehrig for 24th on the all-time list.
During the 8th inning, the skies opened up and the game itself was delayed for 2 hours and 10 minutes due to heavy rains. The Yankees were up, threatening with two runners on and Alex Rodriguez coming to the plate when the game was put on hold. After the long wait, Jonathan Papelbon came out and overpowered Rodriguez with nothing but fastballs, and retired last seasons MVP with an impressive strikeout. Papelbon would work a perfect 9th to earn his 4th save of the season.
“My whole goal was just not to sit down during the rain delay, just keep my blood flowing,” Papelbon said. “I definitely had to stay in the right mind-set the whole time. I never let it go. … I stayed there the entire time. I maintained my intensity.”
Mike Mussina took the loss for the Yankees and is now 1-2 on the season. He allowed 8 hits and 4 earned runs during his 5 2/3 innings of work.
In last night’s 8-5 Red Sox victory, conditions were very similar to late October playoff weather. The game time temperature was a brisk 45 degrees with winds gusting around 13-15 mph. The elements affected both teams, especially the starting pitchers. Dice-K Matsuzaka walked 6 batters in 5 innings of work, and Phil Hughes issued 3 free passes in only 2 innings before getting the hook from Joe Giradi.
Luckily for Matsuzaka, the Sox were able to put up 3 runs in the 1st and 4 in the 3rd providing a big enough lead that would hold up for the win. Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Sean Casey and Coco Crisp each had two hits in the win. Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury both drove in two runs as well.
The Yankees didn’t receive much offensive production in this one from the top of their lineup. Spots 1 through 4 went 1-15 on the night, including an 0-5 showing from A-Rod. On the series, Rodriguez was only 2-13 (.154) with 2 strikeouts.
Sox slugger David Ortiz sat out Sunday’s game to mentally re-focus, hoping it would help break his early season slump. Ortiz is batting .070 (3-43) with only 1 HR and 3 RBI’s on the year.
Boston heads out for a two-game series in Cleveland, the teams first meeting since last years ALCS match up that the Red Sox took in 7 games en route to their World Series victory. The Yankees are off to Tampa Bay to face the Devil Rays before the rivals square off again in the Bronx for two games on April 16th and 17th.
The Sox return home on April 18th for a three-game series against the Texas Rangers and a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Tickets are still available for both series!