Jobu reviews the Yankees series at home against the hated Boston Red Sox.
I wasn’t sure what to expect this series. In truth, I’m a little nervous about a feeling I got coming into these three games. That feeling was comfort. The Red Sox simply don’t scare me as a Yankees fan. My brother and I attended game one, and we remarked on the feeling that, once the Yankees got ahead… the Sox weren’t going to come back. I’m not sure if this makes sense to anyone outside of these two teams, but no Yankees/Red Sox game is ever supposed to be easy. Even if one of the teams goes up big, you know the other team is always going to come back. With the Sox struggling so mightily this season, I just don’t get that feeling anymore. This makes me a little nervous because, overconfidence is the biggest curse a fan can ever levy on his team… In the end the Sox proved that they might not be as deflated as I thought, with a huge series win in New York.
Game 1: Yankees 10, Red Sox 3
As I mentioned earlier, I attended this game with my brother (his first since moving back from the West Coast). The Yankees had Phil Hughes on the mound (the third time I’ve seen Hughes this season), and Boston countered with Aaron Cook, Lord of the Contact. The Sox jumped out in front in the first inning, and then the Yankees began toying with them. They took the lead in the bottom of the inning, and then every time the Sox would score to pull within one run, the Yankees would pull further ahead in the bottom of that very inning. It was like when my cat (RIP, Toby) would play with a mouse before eventually ripping its head off… kinda fun to watch (not the ripping the head off part), but ultimately it filled me with a little pity for the Sox as the Yankees put them away late to win 10-3.
It’s hard to all a quality start ugly, but this one didn’t start out too great for Phildo. He allowed three solo home runs (one to Dustin Pedroia in the first, one to Carl Crawford in the third and one to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fourth) before finally settling down a bit and actually finishing very strongly. I was surprised that Girardi left him in for the last two innings (we figured this was a “five and fly” type of start with all the homers), but Hughes made that look smart by retiring the Sox easily in the sixth and seventh innings. Because he was given that chance, his line looked a lot better than it would have: 7 Ip, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 5Ks, 110 pitches and his tenth win of the season (10-8).
After Robertson got the Yankees through the top of the eighth, they piled on the runs in the bottom of the frame. This allowed Rafael Soriano to sit down and Cody Eppley to come in for the ninth instead. It was a shaky one (two hits including a double), but Cody got through it and the Yankees won.
Granderslam Shuts the Door
There was something about Aaron Cook that told me that the Yankees would either blow him out of the water or get shut down. Cook is a big time contact pitcher (hence my nickname for him earlier). He’s the type of guy that works quickly, throws strikes and relies on a heavy sinker to get ground balls. Coming into the game, he had only walked three men in his six starts, but had also only rung up three Ks. Three! Anyway, the Yankees romped all over him in this one.
After Mark Teixeira just barely beat out the back end of a run-scoring double play in the bottom of the first (lackadaisical defense by the Sox cost them that one), Raúl Ibañez came up and hit a rocket over the right field fence to give the Yankees a 3-1. After the Sox scored a run in the top of the third, the Yankees came back with one of their own, on a sacrifice fly by Tex. When the Sox pulled back within one run in the top of the fourth, Russell Martin smacked an absolute bomb over the left field fence for a two-run homer to put the Yankees up 6-3. Once the Sox pulled Cook the Yankees settled down a bit and didn’t score again until the eighth, when it was time to put the Sox away.
Former Yankee farmhand Mark Melancon came in and immediately gave up a double to Andruw Jones. He then hit Eric Chavez (just what we need, right?) and got Ichiro to ground into a force play, retiring Chavez at second. Jones got thrown out at home on another fielder’s choice, and Derek Jeter walked with two outs to load the bases for Curtis Granderson. Predictably (Melancon came into the game with an ERA well over 7.00 and five homers in just 21 innings), Granderson hit a rocket home run into the left-center field seats for a Grand Slam. Ballgame over, Yankees win.
Notable Offense: HR – Ibañez (13), Martin (11), Granderson (28), RBI – Teixeira 2 (69), Ibañez 2 (44), Martin 2 (27) Granderson 4 (58), 3 hits for Granderson, 2 for Canó
Game 2: Red Sox 8, Yankees 6
I did not attend game two, and that is perhaps what cursed the Yankees to failure. Outside of me dropping the ball, some others did too (especially Granderson), and the Yankees lost a pretty exciting game. With CC Sabathia on the mound against Jon Lester, one might have expected a low scoring game. Lester held up his end of the bargain before his bullpen blew everything, but CC was not on. The Sox were up 6-1 before the Yankees came roaring back in the bottom of the eighth, but a costly misplay by Granderson in the top of the ninth eventually gave the Red Sox the win in game two.
I’m still not sure what it is, but something has been off with CC this season. It’s as if he has taken an extended leave from his talent. He has probably been the most inconsistent pitcher in the rotation except maybe Iván Nova (although you know Nova is going to be inconsistent, so he’s kind of consistent that way), and he was completely off in this game. The Sox scored three of The Big Lefty™ in the top of the first, when Adrián González hit an RBI double and Will Middlebrooks drove in two with a double of his own. CC then settled down a bit until the fifth, when González hit a two-out, three-run homer to make it 6-1. CC’s final line looked like this: 6 Ip, 8 H, 6 R, 2BB, 6 Ks, 104 pitches and a no-decision. He needs to improve if the Yankees are going to go far in October.
David Phelps continued to impress with his two innings of relief in this one. He had a 123 eighth inning and then struck out the side in the eighth. Phelps now has 25 Ks over his last 15 IP (6 games) and has lowered his ERA to 2.59. He has emerged as the Yankees’ secret weapon this season, and could really be important as the possible seventh inning guy in the playoffs. Rafael Soriano took the loss in this game, but it really wasn’t his fault. He walked Jacoby Ellsbury with one out, but Granderson’s misplay was what allowed the go ahead triple by Pedro Ciriaco. The Sox added another run on a sac fly by Pedroia, but the damage was already done. One day you’re a hero, the next you’re the goat. That’s baseball, Suzyn.
Comeback Complete… and then the Loss
The Yankees always seem to give Lester the fits. I feel like he gets through five innings with 100 pitches every time out against the bombers. They didn’t quite smack him around in this game, but they got to him towards the end of his outing. Chris Stewart actually got the scoring started by launching a solo home run to left in the bottom of the third. It was Stewart’s first home run of the season and his first as a Yankee… a nice moment for sure.
The Yankees had their first real rally in the bottom of the fifth, plating three runs in the inning and climbing back into the game after the Sox had taken a 6-1 lead in the top of the frame. Jones started the inning off with a walk before Jayson Nix took Lester deep to right for a two-run home run. After Martin walked and Ichiro singled him to second, Stewart came up and bunted men to second and third with one out. Jeter’s RBI groundout scored Martin and rounded out the rally, as Lester would get out of it with no further damage.
The real dramatics came in the bottom of the eighth. The Sox put in the hated Vicente Padilla, who has openly feuded with Teixeira all year long (and for most of the last decade, really) about whether or not Padiall is a headhunter. Teixeira, meanwhile, has owned Padilla this season, which would not change in this game. Ibañez led off with a single before Jeter struck out to bring up Granderson. On consecutive pitches, Granderson hit foul ball home runs that would have tied the game. Predictably, he then also struck out, which set up a nice moment for Tex. Padilla threw him a fastball down the middle and Tex did not miss it. The two-run homer tied the game, and might have drawn the ire of the Sox if they were paying attention as Tex walked a third of the way up the third base line before dropping his bat and going into his trot. That one, against Padilla, must have felt pretty good. Unfortunately, the Yankees were unable to recreate that magic against Alfredo Aceves in the ninth, and they took the loss.
Notable Offense: HR – Stewart (1), Nix (4), Teixeira (20), RBI – Stewart (12), Nix 2 (12), Jeter (29), Teixeira 2 (71)
Game 3: Red Sox 3, Yankees 2
The rubber game of this series was on Sunday night on ESPN (with Terry Francona in the booth, which is always a little awkward when the Sox are involved). The Yankees sent Hiroki Kuroda to the mound, while the Sox countered with rookie lefty Félix Doubront. This was the pitcher’s duel we were expecting in game two.
Kuku for Kuroda
OK so I stole that from a Kosuke Fukudome t-shirt I own (don’t ask, it’s fantasy baseball related), but it’s applicable! Kuroda was, once again, brilliant in this game. He allowed a two-run double to Ryan Sweeney of all people in the top of the second, and that was it. Kuroda didn’t necessarily breeze through the rest of the game, but he used four double plays and that good splitter to get himself through eight innings with just those two runs allowed. His final line looked like this: 8 Ip, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 102 pitches and a no decision. Great job, good effort and at least the Yankees comeback kept this from being a tough loss.
As you always should in a tie game at home, the Yankees turned to Soriano in the top of the ninth to preserve the lead. Soriano hit Crawford to open the inning (it looked like Soriano slipped or something), but retired the next three in order. David Robertson came in to pitch the top of the tenth, walked Saltalamacchia to start the inning and allowed a single to Middlebrooks (after a missed bunt attempt that hit him led to Bobby V. and Josh Beckett geting tossed out of the game). After Sweeney grounded into a fielder’s choice, Ciriaco hit useless bloop that found some grass in right field, and the Sox took a 3-2 lead. Ladies and gentlemen, my new least favorite Red Sox player. Sox win.
The Yankees didn’t do much of anything offensively until the bottom of the seventh. Doubront held them completely in check, despite allowing five walks to the bombers in the game. The Yankees only had two hits through the first six, and those seven base runners were all left on. That is, until, Martin led off the bottom of the seventh with his twelfth home run of the season, to pull the Yankees within a run at 2-1. After Ichiro hit an infield single, Doubront struck out Jayson Nix and was pulled in favor of Matt Albers. Jeter followed an Ichiro stolen base with a single, but the ball was hit too hard to score the run. Bobby Valentine called on the lefty Andrew Miller, who got Granderson to pop up and Teixeira to ground out, ending the threat.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees finally tied the game up. Miller stayed in the game and got Canó and Swisher before allowing a double to Jones. That led Bobby V. to put in his closer, Aceves, in to get a four out save. Big mistake. The first pitch Aceves threw to Martin was slapped back up the middle for a game tying single. That would be all for the Yankees, as they would strand a hit batsmen in the bottom of the tenth and lose 3-2. When the guy hitting in the .180s is all your offense for the evening, your team probably isn’t gonna win too many games.
Notable Offense: HR – Martin (12), RBI – Martin 2 (29), SB – Ichiro (17), 2 hits for Swisher and Martin
This was a big series win for the Red Sox. They now go home for ten games, and they’re at .500 instead of two games under. It won’t be an easy climb for them to get to the playoffs though. They are currently behind the Angels, A’s, Angels, Tigers, Rays, Orioles, and the Blue Jays. No matter how well they play, they still have to catch and pass five of these teams to make the playoffs. They have to get hot and hope everyone else cools off. It’s not impossible, but let’s not all get that excited about a .500 team in late July. That’s all I’m saying. The Yankees meanwhile, can turn their attention to one of those Wild Card hopeful teams, as they host Buck Schowalter and the Orioles starting on Monday night at the stadium. I’ll be in the house, so look for me behind Nick Swisher in right field.
I wasn’t sure where to put this, but I figured here is good. Did Carl Crawford get shit on by a bird? Can anyone in Red Sox Nation tell me if this is something he always has on his helmet? Thank you.
Featured image courtesy of: Seth Wenig/AP
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