After the first two games of this weekend’s Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees series, things were looking great for the Boston Red Sox. They’d captured victories on both Thursday night and Friday afternoon against the Bronx Bombers and it finally looked liked their bats were going to come around after an awful series sweep in Tampa Bay. It appeared that right when they needed a series win on the road, they were about to accomplished the feat but the weekend would prove to fair in favor of New York who evened the series out by claiming one run victories on Saturday and Sunday.
Jon Lester pitched a complete game five-hitter in Boston’s 5-0 win in the first game of the series to end Boston’s five-game losing streak. The win was his seventh on the season and his second complete game shutout on the year. Lester was the first Boston pitcher to throw a complete game shutout in the Bronx since Pedro Martinez accomplished the feat in 2000.
“It was cool. It was definitely a different experience,” Lester said. “You watch the game and it seems big, but when you’re out there on the mound, it’s a pretty big stadium and a lot of people.”
Friday afternoon Josh Beckett tossed six strong innings and the Sox were able to win again by the score of 6-4 with the help of one of the most bizarre hits in recent years. Kevin Youkilis belted a two-RBI triple in the third inning that helped tie the score at 3-3 but the hit itself was inches away from being a homerun. Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon had a good beat on the Youkilis blast that was heading towards the left field fence. He made a great effort to catch the ball and for a moment actually had it in his glove before crashing into the wall, jarring the ball which sprang loose and actually rested on the top of the wall’s padding for multiple seconds before falling back in play on the warning track. When all was said and done with, two runs had scored, Youkilis ended up at third, and Damon left the game with a sprained/bruised left shoulder and has since been placed on the 15-day DL for the first time in his career.
“It was bizarre,” said Sox third basemen Mike Lowell who was the hero of the game with four RBI’s and the go-ahead three run homer in the fifth inning. “I’ve been playing awhile. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
In the two wins, the Sox had a combined 23 hits and 13 runs compared to the Yankees 11 hits and four runs. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was not happy with his team’s effort and in the post-game press conference made it known.
“Last night was a frustrating loss,” Girardi said. “Today’s a frustrating loss.”
The Yankees responded well and were able to receive a very strong pitching performance from Mike Mussina on Saturday to pick up a 2-1 victory. Mussina hurled six innings allowing only four hits and no runs while striking out five to earn his 11th victory on the year.
New York was able to take a 1-0 lead on a Melky Cabrera RBI single in the 2nd inning and plate their other run in the 6th inning on a Brett Gardner Sac fly to left.
Mariano Rivera was called to close the door in the 9th and immediately got himself into a jam. J.D. Drew singled to lead off the inning and Manny Ramirez was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on with no outs. Mike Lowell kept things alive with an RBI single to right, scoring Drew and cutting the Yankees lead in half making the score 2-1. Rivera would then hit Kevin Youkilis to load the bases with no outs.
As good as things looked for the Sox, Rivera reached down deep and was able to record the final three outs without allowing another run to score. He was able to strike out Coco Crisp for out number one, retire the struggling Jason Varitek on an infield pop up to first and then end the game on a Julio Lugo strike out.
“We gave ourselves a great chance with really good at-bats in the ninth and then Mariano went to work and really carved us up for three batters,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He gave himself no wiggle room and he didn’t need it.”
In Sunday’s game, the Sox attempted to rebound from the tough loss and capture a road series for the first time on the road trip. Tim Wakefield provided Boston with another quality start, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing three runs. When he exited the game, the Sox were on top 4-2 and he was replaced in favor of Javier Lopez. Lopez allowed a two run triple to Robinson Cano that evened the games score at 4-4.
The game would go to extra innings and the Yankees were able to get to Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to score the game winning run in the 10th inning off of a Brett Gardener dribbler up the middle that deflected off of Alex Cora’s glove into center field, scoring Cano to make the final score 5-4 New York.
“Seems like that’s what’s going to happen if you’re going to beat me this year: broken bat or find-your-way-through-the-infield somehow,” Papelbon said. “I’ve got to be able to go out and get the first guy.”
The Sox struggled to only win three games on their 10 game road trip and have slipped behind the Tampa Bay Rays by five games in the AL East Standings. Currently Boston is a half game ahead of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Wild Card race and they will be welcoming Minnesota to Boston for a three game series starting tonight.
Minnesota has been playing great ball winning eight of their last 10 games including five in a row. They will send Scott Baker to the hill tonight to face Dice-K Matsuzaka in the series opener. Baker is 5-2 on the season with a 3.65 ERA while Matsuzaka, currently 9-1, will be going for win number 10 on the year.
Following the three games with Minnesota, the Sox will welcome the Baltimore Orioles into town for a three game set this coming weekend. Tickets are still available for all remaining games on the current homestand.