Just as Saturday’s game favored the Yankees on paper, Sunday’s game favored the Red Sox on paper. Boston was putting Josh Beckett on the mound, who is in the middle of an excellent season and has demolished the Yankees this year. The Bombers were countering with junk baller extraordinaire Freddy Garcia, who has had a fantastic year so far for the Yankees, but had been awful against Boston heading into the game. On paper this had the makings of an easy Boston victory. Instead, it was a nail biter from start to finish.
Neither pitcher gave his team length, but was effective over a short period of time. Garcia gave the Yankees just five innings of work, but allowed only a single run on five hits and three walks with just one strike out. Garcia’s most important inning was the second, when the Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs. At that moment, it looked like the teams were going to play this one to the script and Boston was about to get ahead of the Yankees early. Instead, Garcia limited the damage to a run on a Marco Scutaro single. He would pitch into and out of trouble the rest of his brief start, but that was the only damage he allowed.
Beckett, meanwhile, gave a vintage performance. He was dominant, allowing just one run on six hits and two walks with five strike outs, but, as is his norm, he didn’t give Boston length, leaving after just six innings and he … took … forever … between … pitches. (Beckett worked so slowly that the ESPN announcing crew was openly asking whether or not MLB would begin to force him to speed up at some point in the near future.) For a time it looked like Beckett wasn’t going to allow a single run. Derek Jeter had a loud out to Dustin Pedroia with a runner on second, while Nick Swisher hit one to deep center, just in front of the 420 feet sign, but that was it. Then, after Russell Martin was gunned out in the fifth stretching a single into a double Eduardo Nunez lifted a high fly ball over the Monster to tie the game.
The bullpens were in charge from the seventh inning onwards and Boston’s flinched first. Matt Albers started the sixth inning and after getting two quick outs he gave up a booming homer to Brett Gardner, one of his three hits, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. (For those scoring at home, yes, the Yankees got two homers in this game from Eduardo Nunez and Brett Gardner.) The Yankees would threaten further in the inning, loading the bases with Franklin Morales on the mound. Robinson Cano, however, would ground out to end the threat.
Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect seventh for the Yankees. David Robertson took over in the eighth and got David Ortiz and Josh Reddick to strike out. Things got a little tight when Carl Crawford made it all the way to third base on wild curveballs that got past Martin after reaching on a single, but Jason Varitek popped out to end the threat. The Yankees turned things over to Mariano Rivera with a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth. Mo proceeded to blow the save. Marco Scutaro led off with a double off the Monster, on a hit that may have been a homer in another ball park before Jacoby Ellsbury moved Scutaro to third on a sacrifice bunt. Dustin Pedroia got Scutaro home on a sac fly before Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning. The Red Sox lit Phil Hughes up in the tenth to walk off with the win.
Speaking as a fan, this was a crushing loss. The Yankees were two outs away from stealing their second close victory in Beantown and heading into an off day with sole possession of first place. Instead, the Red Sox rallied late and came away with an uplifting victory of their own against the greatest relief pitcher of all time. There are, however, a few silver linings to this story. The biggest is that the Yankees have done all this without Alex Rodriguez. There is no doubt that the team is better when he’s healthy. He’ll be back soon to give the offense a boost. Furthermore, while the Yankees often looked helpless against the Sox earlier this season, this time the Bombers came two outs away from a series win, indicating that they can hang with their rivals. Finally, the Yankees are just one game out. The season is far from over.
Monday is an off day for the Pinstripes. The Angels come into town on Tuesday for a three game set. Dan Haren gets the ball for the Halos, while Ivan Nova is now scheduled to start in place of Phil Hughes.
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