The New York Yankees came to town Friday tied with the Red Sox atop the A.L. East, but left Sunday finding themselves looking up at the Red Sox once again. The Red Sox relinquished the top spot in the division for the first time since the middle of June after Jon Lester and the boys lost the first game of the series Friday night. However their time in second did not last long as the Sox, behind their sticks and solid outings from Lackey and Ace Beckett, took back first place by winning the next two against the Yanks. The series victory continued the Sox success over the Pinstripes in 2011, improving to 10-2 against the Bombers and clinching the season series. Here is a quick look at the series:
– Game 1 NYY 3 BOS 2: Unfortunately I did not get to watch much of this game because I am not a complete loser and was out having a couple cocktails, but highlights and the box score suggests it was a pretty clean game. The Sox took an early 2-0 lead but a shaky 6th inning for Lester lead to 3 runs for the Yankees and that was all their bullpen needed. Lester’s line was far from terrible, he surrendered 5 hits over 6 innings pitched leading to 3 earned runs while striking out 7, but struggled with command walking 4 batters on the night. No team is better at taking advantage of free passes than the Yankees and two of Lester’s base on balls were issued in that game deciding 3 run 6th inning handing Lester his 5th loss of the season (11-5). Bartolo Colon did not factor in the decision only going 4.2 innings, the Yankees bullpen tossed 4.1 innings of shutout baseball with Boone Logan picking up the win. A cleanly played game here, the Sox just came up a little short.
– Game 2 BOS 10 NYY 4: The Sox were able to rebound and even the series Saturday with a blowout victory over the Yankees and their horse C.C. Sabathia. This game displayed a couple impressive performances from two guys having disappointing seasons. John Lackey continued his redemption tour pitching 6 strong innings and allowing 3 runs while picking up his 10th (thats right his 10th) win of the season. This was an extremely encouraging start from my new best friend Lackey, the Big Hoss was able to command all of his pitches and hold a very dangerous lineup to only 3 runs, let’s hope my man can keep it up. Carl Crawford followed up his 2 hits Friday by scoring 3 runs while going 4-4 at the plate. Crawford has been very streaky for the Sox this season and has seen his fair share of troubles against left handed pitching, 3 of the left fielder’s 4 hits came off the southpaw Sabathia. Hopefully the 142 Million Dollar Man will start to show some confidence at the plate for the stretch run. Finally, Jacoby Ellsbury showed no signs of cooling down and continued his MVP campaign by collecting 2 hits in 4 plate appearances, poking his 19th long ball of the season and driving in 6. Ellsbury has to be the only man in America not concerned with all the struggling economy headlines dominating the news these days.
– Game 3 BOS 3 NYY 2 (10 innings): The rubber game of this 3 game featured a couple of unlikely heroes in another extra innings walk off for hometown boys. Josh Beckett took the bump in this first place deciding game for the Sox, and continued his bounce back season with another strong start against their rivals from the Bronx. The trend continued as the Red Sox gave their right handed ace very little run support resulting in another no decision for the rock steady Beckett. Joshua Patrick was not as efficient with his pitch count as we have seen out of him this season, throwing 101 pitches in 6 innings of work but surrendered only 1 run on a Fenway friendly homer off the bat of ARod fill-in Eduardo Nunez. Beckett has certainly put his last season struggles against the Yankees behind him, dominating the Bombers to the tune of a 4-0 record while posting a 1.00 ERA in 2011. The Yanks put a tally in the run column courtesy of a solo shot from weak hitting Nunez, and the Sox were carried offensively by clutch hitting of…wait for it….Marco Scutaro? Scutaro went 4-4 on the night with an RBI and scored the game tying run after leading off the 9th with a wall ball double off of the great Marino Rivera (Scutaro already had a walk off HR off of Rivera on his resume, glad to have him on the roster). Lowrie is scheduled to come off the DL this weak and it looks as though Scutaro isn’t giving up any playing time without a fight. Daniel Bard pitched a clean frame in the top of 10th, setting up the dramatics that occurred in the bottom half of the inning. After Youkilis flied out to center to start the inning, an Ortiz double off of Phil Hughes followed by an intentional walk to Crawford set the stage for Josh Reddick to join Scutaro in the hero’s circle. Reddick singled home pinch runner Darnell McDonald by lining a first pitch curveball from Hughes to the left field corner, leading the Red Sox to their third walk off of the week and sole possession of first place in the American League East.
After this series it is hard for me to believe the Yankees would be able to matchup with the Sox in a 7 game series. The line ups can both put up runs but the Sox starting pitching and defense cannot be matched by the boys in pinstripes. The only area where I see the Yankees having an advantage would be the bullpen. The Sox have the 8th and 9th innings locked up but the middle of that bullpen can certainly be rattled, the Yankees’s bullpen (especially Robertson) was very impressive this weekend and they will have to continue their great work into October to make up for the lack of starting pitching depth. At this point I am far more concerned matching up with the Rangers, Angels, Tigers, and even the Indians, the Bronx needs to step it up if they want to prevent Theo and the boys from steamrolling through the American League.
After some nice home cooking the Sox now hit the road for 6 games. Tim Wakefield takes another stab at 200 tonight as the Red Sox begin a three game set with the Minnesota at Target field before heading out West to take on the Mariners.