In perhaps the least expected turn of events in recent Yankee history, A.J. Burnett managed to turn in a respectable performance against the best non-Yankee offense in Major League Baseball — allowing less than three earned runs in a start for the first time since June 29 against the Brewers — as the Yankees battled back to win the rubber game against the Red Sox 4-2, snapping a six-series losing streak against their rivals and winning a series against Boston for the first time since May 2010.
The Yankees had Jon Lester on the ropes early, forcing the lefty to throw 42 pitches in the first inning, but they were only able to push one run across the board. The Yankees would have multiple chances to score in each inning thereafter — and would strand 13 total baserunners — but couldn’t get anything else off of Lester. However, they did get the dominant southpaw out of the game after five innings, which is a pretty big accomplishment in and of itself. This was the first time Lester failed to go at least six innings against the Yankees since April 6, 2010 — a span of six starts.
A.J. Burnett’s final line of 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BBs and 4 Ks was far better than even the most wide-eyed optimist could have expected of Burnett coming into this game. The only damage done came off the bat of Dustin Pedroia, who hit a two-run home run (of course) and picked up two more hits. He’s now batting infinity on the season against the Yankees.
Down 2-1, the Yankees put two runners on with one out facing old pal Alfredo Aceves, prompting Terry Francona to summon Daniel Bard an inning early. In the key at-bat of the game, Bard surrendered a double to Russell Martin on a full count (Russell battled back from 0-2), scoring both runners while Martin got to third on the throw. Eric Chavez followed with a base hit of his own to extend the new Yankees lead to 4-2, and that’s where it would stay. Speaking of Chavez; heck of a series for him — he went 4-7 with a walk and knocked in four of the Yankees’ 14 runs in this series.
Huge props to the Yankee bullpen, who combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings in this one, although Boston didn’t go quietly against Mariano Rivera in the ninth, because they never do. Mo wound up with a two-out bases loaded situation facing Adrian Gonzalez, but struck Gonzo out looking on a pitch that looked like it may have been a ball on TV but was definitely a strike.
And lastly, in his Major League debut Jesus Montero came to the plate with the bases loaded in the first inning but struck out, and ended up going 0-4 with two flyouts, a groundout, a hit-by-pitch and a run scored.
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