What looked to be yet another classic Fenway Park lead-exchanging back-and-forth turned into a no-doubter thanks to the bottom third of the Yankee lineup and the bullpen, as Curtis Granderson, Eric Chavez and Russell Martin combined to go 6-12 with two walks, three home runs — two by Martin, the first time a non-Jorge Posada Yankee catcher went yard twice in the same game since John Flaherty in 2003 — and seven RBI, and David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Luis Ayala tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, as the Yankees topped the Red Sox 9-4 in the FOX Saturday Afternoon Game of Death.
For the second straight day neither team got much from its staring pitcher, as Ivan Nova went 4 1/3, giving up four runs on seven hits (three walks and three strikeouts), while Clay Buchholz only lasted 3 2/3, giving up four earned runs on eight hits (three walks and two strikeouts). Now, in fairness to Nova, his day theoretically might’ve ended differently had Robinson Cano successfully turned a tailor-made double-play to the end the fourth, and as a result of the gift out the Sox were able to score three runs. Sure, Nova may well have gotten in trouble in the very next inning, but I can’t ding him for the Cano play. Sure, he ultimately gave up those three runs, but I still came away semi-encouraged by Nova’s performance. I thought the stuff looked good — per Brooks, his off-speed piches ranged from passable (changeup 0.0683 linear weights) to very good (-0.5409). Unfortunately his four-seamer, despite having good zip (avg. speed 92mph, maxing out at 94.3mph), got hit hard, to the tune of 2.2604 linear weights. It seems we often come away from a young pitcher’s outing hoping for an improved breaking ball; but if Nova has his off-speed under control and primarily needs to work on better fastball location/sequencing, that seems like an aspect of his game that shouldn’t be terribly difficult to improve upon.
In addition to beating Buchholz around, the Yankees hit Felix Doubront for two runs on a Granderson two-run jack (his second home run of the season, with both coming off lefties), and picked up another two off old friend Alfredo Aceves, on a Robinson Cano solo shot (part of a 3-5 day for Cano) and Martin’s second bomb of the game — the Yankees’ first run past the 6th inning since last Sunday. Eric Chavez also did quite nicely in his first start, going 3-5 with two doubles, while Alex Rodriguez continues to swing a hot bat, picking up two hits of his own.
On the negative side of the ledger, Mark Teixeira seems to have finally remembered that it’s April, having gone hitless since going deep against the Twins on Tuesday; while Brett Gardner picked up an 0-5 and Derek Jeter went 1-4.
Both teams will be looking to pick up the series win in the finale Sunday evening at 8pm in the ESPN Sunday Night Marathon Heartbreaker, with CC Sabathia taking the hill for the Yanks against Josh Beckett.
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