Friday was a night where the Red Sox had a great chance to send their division rivals a message. Instead, they stumbled from the get-go, falling behind 5-0 before they broke the shutout (and no-hitter) in the fourth.
The game was shaky from the beginning, as the Sox were retired in order in the first. Sox ace Jon Lester looked sharp for the first two frames; particularly in the first when Mark Teixeira chased an outside pitch for a strikeout. Still, the Yankees were able to manufacture a run on a stolen base and two singles in the first.
The game was quiet through the second inning, but it was all down hill from there.
The Yanks were able to tack on four runs in the third, an inning that also saw Lester leave the game after a Melky Cabrera liner caught him in the leg. Reports indicate that the injury is not serious, though Lester was admitted for precautionary X-Rays.
Victor Martinez’s homer in the fourth broke Joba Chamberlain’s streak of 11 straight retired batters, making the score 5-1. The Yankees answered in the bottom of the inning, extending their lead to five.
The game was a briefly a contest again in the sixth after David Ortiz blasted his 27th homer of the year, a two-run shot off Chamberlain that brought the Sox to within 3. The Yankees again answered, however, with a two-run bottom of the 6th and one more in the 7th for good measure.
The eighth provided some hope for the Sox faithful, as the team was able to tally a run on a walk and two singles, with just one out. With the score 9-4 and two runners on, manager Joe Girardi decided he had seen enough, summoning Damaso Marte to face Ortiz and relief ace Phil Hughes for Jason Bay. The Yankees relievers ended the threat by retiring both batters, allowing only one inherited runner to score.
The game concluded following a Casey Kotchman double-play to end the ninth – mercifully, perhaps, as the Yankees bats challenged the Sox all night – putting runners on base in nearly every inning. Only once, in the fifth, were the Yankees retired in order.
Tonight’s award for “When you were younger, we never thought you’d hurt us, but now you have” goes to Yankee’s centerfielder Melky Cabrera for effectively knocking Lester from the game – both literally and figuratively.
All of Red Sox Nation fondly remembers the days when Cabrera was just a fifth-outfielder on the Yankees. Unfortunately, the new Yankee Stadium breathed life into his bat, as 2009 has been the best season of his career.
Does anyone actually remember when Brett Gardner was the starting centerfielder in the Bronx? It would be nice to see him back in the saddle again.
It’s Daisuke and Sabathia tomorrow, followed by Byrd and Pettitte on Sunday. You can’t like our chances for either game and you have to wonder whether that Magic Number 3 will be any smaller by Monday.
For next time, let’s just try to keep our pitchers healthy and walking, shall we? After all, the playoffs are what’s important, not some meaningless rivalry game in late September.