|8th inning: The consequences of playing out of position||05.05.09 at 10:11 pm ET|
The Yankees have been trying to handle third base with spackle until Alex Rodriguez returns. They had Cody Ransom starting at the position, but he was injured. And so, the team has had to turn to Angel Berroa and Ramiro Pena — neither of whom had ever played the position for any significant stretch — to keep the hot corner warm while awaiting A-Rod.
Pena showed his continued discomfort at the position, booting a Jason Bay dribbler down the line for an E5. Bay then stole second (his fourth steal of the year, continuing towards fulfillment of his stated spring training goal of swiping more bags). Reliever Jonathan Albaladejo (who came on in place of Phil Coke to start the inning) then issued an intentional walk to J.D. Drew and hit Jeff Bailey to load the bases.
That brought up Jason Varitek, who has been terrible in his career with the bases loaded. As Gary From Chapel Hill noted, through April 24, he was 1 for his last 29 (with 4 DPs) with the bases loaded dating back to July 1, 2007.
But he has now done plenty of damage in such situations against the Yankees this year. He hit a grand slam against A.J. Burnett at Fenway, and tonight, he lifted a sac fly to right-center to offer a key insurance run. Nick Green then followed by punching a two-out single to right to score another run, and to end Albaladejo’s night. Edwar Ramirez came on to strike out Jonathan Van Every, but the Sox now have a three-run lead.
Both of their eighth-inning runs, of course, were unearned thanks to Pena’s gaffe. Rodriguez, it is worth mentioning, is likely scheduled to return this week, perhaps as soon as Friday. He has now hit four homers over the last three days in extended spring training.
BOTTOM 8: RED SOX 6, YANKEES 3
Hideki Okajima pitched poorly against the Yankees at Fenway, allowing three runs in two appearances. But tonight, he has contributed two vital innings of shutout relief. After stranding an inherited runner in the bottom of the seventh, he retired teh side in order in the eighth, getting Robinson Cano to ground to short, striking out Nick Swisher (swinging) and getting Melky Cabrera looking. He has now thrown six scoreless innings over his last four appearances.
RED SOX 6, YANKEES 3
|7th inning: Sox again held in check||05.05.09 at 9:35 pm ET|
Obviously, Nick Green‘s remarkable start with the Red Sox has caught many off guard, but those who would cast Julio Lugo to the wolves may soon end up reconsidering. Green fouled out to the catcher to lead off the seventh, and is now 0-for-3 tonight and 4-for-20 (.200) on the current roadtrip.
Worth mentioning: Green, who spent some time with the Yankees, often takes the subway from mid-town hotels to Yankee Stadium. He said that he was never recognized except when he traveled with Sal Fasano — celebrator of the very recognizable fu manchu — to the park.
Green was the last batter faced by Jose Veras, who was replaced by lefty Phil Coke. Coke gave up a loud out to deep-ish center to Jonathan Van Every, but the biggest part of the park kept the ball in its confines. (Noteworthy from these two games at the new park: all homers have been to either left or right – the alleys and center have been less generous.)
With two outs, Dustin Pedroia shot a double down the right-field line. He is now 9-for-20 (.450) in his last four games.
But Pedroia was stranded when David Ortiz grounded to second off of Coke. With the inning-ending dribbler, Ortiz is 8-for-39 (.205) against lefties this year.
BOTTOM 7: RED SOX 4, YANKEES 3
Josh Beckett, having already thrown 105 pitches through six innings, returned to the mound for the start of the seventh to face Derek Jeter. It was a bit surprising to see him back on the hill, given that Jeter has a carer .325 average against Beckett. But, of course, the Sox bullpen has been worn thin by short starts, and neither Ramon Ramirez nor Jonathan Papelbon is available today, so it would make sense that the Sox would want to squeeze every possible out from their starters.
But the move didn’t pan out, as Jeter lined a single off of Beckett to end the pitcher’s night. Though Beckett gave up the three-run homer, he was otherwise excellent, and positioned his team to win with what will go into the books as his third quality start in six outings this year. He did give up 10 hits for the third straight outing, but this time, he limited the damage to three runs, striking out five and walking just one.
Despite the solid performance, it’s still worth mentioning: prior to this year, Beckett had never given up 10 or more hits in back-to-back outings. He’s now been thusly tagged in three straight starts.
Beckett was replaced by Hideki Okajima, whose early entry means that the Sox will be choosing from either Takashi Saito or Manny Delcarmen for a potential save situation in the ninth.
Johnny Damon clearly struggled to pick up Okajima’s offerings. He popped a check-swing foul just behind the plate on a fastball, Jason Varitek corraling the ball for the first out of the inning. That brought up switch-hitter Mark Teixeira to bat right-handed against Okajima.
Interestingly, Sox manager Terry Francona said before today’s game that he brought in Ramon Ramirez to face Teixeira yesterday because he wanted Teixeira hitting from the left side. After the Yankees first baseman clubbed a homer batting from that side of the plate, Francona seemed open to changing the approach to have Teixeira hit right-handed against Okajima.
Okajima jumped ahead 1-2, then nearly struck out Teixeira (2-for-3 with awalk against Okajima before tonight) on a foul tip that barely eluded Varitek’s grasp. But Okajima retired Teixeira on a curve that he popped to left-center for the second out.
Hideki Matsui then drove a ball to the opposite field, but his shot lost its battle against the rainy elements, and died at the junction of the grass and warning track. The Sox continue to cling to a one-run lead.
RED SOX 4, YANKEES 3
|6th inning: Chamberlain done after historic night||05.05.09 at 9:05 pm ET|
Somewhat surprisingly, Joba Chamberlain is back on the mound for the sixth inning. Given his emotional outburst following his 10th strikeout to close out the fifth, it seemed natural to expect — partciularly as he neared the 100 pitches mark — that he might be done for the night.
Not so. Chamberlain struck out J.D. Drew looking at a 92 mph fastball, marking the pitcher’s 11th strikeout of the night. It is worth noting Drew’s disagreement with the strike call — since nine of Chamberlain’s 11 strikeouts have been called.
Correct that: nine of Chamberlain’s 12 strikeouts have been called. The pitcher just punched out Jeff Bailey on a slider, and has struck out a dozen Sox in the span of 14 outs. He was pulled in favor of reliever Jose Veras, at the end of an absolutely freak show of a 5.2 inning outing. Chamberlain becomes just the fifth pitcher to strike out 12 or more in a game when he pitched less than six innings.
Veras retired Jason Varitek on a fly to right to end the inning.
BOTTOM 6: RED SOX 4, YANKEES 3
A driving rain is now falling at Yankee Stadium. The pitching conditions are becoming a bit treacherous. It will be interesting to see how long the game can continue to be played.
Apparently Nick Swisher has a diverse portfolio of looks for his Yankee Stadium scoreboard pics. After Robinson Cano grounded out to open the inning (noteworthy: Cano, who has owned Beckett through the years, is now 0-for-3 today), Swisher replaced his mug shot photo with a come hither gaze over his right shoulder, a bat perched on his left. Apparently, Beckett was sufficiently unnerved that he walked Swisher.
Melky Cabrera then sliced a double down the left-field line, the ball bounding into the stands for a ground-rule double, thus keeping Swisher at third and preventing a potentially game-tying run.
That brought Ramiro Pena to the plate for a potentially game-defining matchup against Beckett. With runners on second and third and one out, Beckett threw two straight balls to start the at-bat. There was evident discomfort on a mound turned steadily into mud during the inning. The ground’s crew was summoned to repair the mound and dump dry dirt on it. The landscaping proved huge, as Beckett recovered to strike out Pena with his next three pitches: a 76 mph curve (foul), a 74 mph curve (generously deemed a strike on the outside corner) and a 93 mph fastball at which Pena swung meekly and missed.
That brought up Jose Molina, who grounded slowly to short. Nick Green ranged to his right, gloved the ball and (inexplicably, given the lead-footedness of Molina) fired to first. Though his throw was wide of the bag, Jeff Bailey caught the ball and slapped a tag on Molina, allowing Beckett to escape, the lead still intact.
RED SOX 4, YANKEES 3
|5th inning: Chamberlain punches out 10…and inspires anger||05.05.09 at 8:49 pm ET|
Even though Joba Chamberlain has settled into a dominating rhythm, he had to wave goodbye to an impressive streak following the scoreless fifth inning. For the first time in his career, he has gone at least five innings but allowed more than three runs. Until tonight, he had 11 starts of at least five innings and had never permitted more than three earned runs in any of them.
It seems unlikely that Chamberlain cares. After all, he once again struck out the side in the fifth, and now has set a new career high with 10 punchouts tonight, all in the span of the last four innings. His changeup has been an extraordinary weapon to both lefties (as evidenced by his punchout of Jonathan Van Every to start the inning) and right-handers (Dustin Pedroia went down looking at one). His velocity also continues to jump — he fired one pitch in his sequence against David Ortiz that registered at 96 mph.
Chamberlain walked Ortiz, then drilled Jason Bay in the shoulder with a 93 mph fastball. Given that Bay has crunched three homers against the Yankees this year, the plunking came across as somewhat suspect. Bay glared briefly at Chamberlain before taking his base. Given the pitcher’s history of throwing at the heads of the Red Sox, it will be interesting to see whether there are some repercussions for Yankee hitters.
The hit batter put runners on first and second for Mike Lowell, the RBI machine. But Chamberlain employed his curveball with great success against Lowell, dropping a deuce for a called strike three. Following the punchout, Chamberlain pumped his fists and shouted a she headed towards the Yankees dugout.
With 97 pitches, Chamberlain’s night may now be over. If so, despite the fact that he has allowed four runs, this has been in all likelihood his most impressive outing of the year in terms of pure stuff. He has shown an ability to throw strikes with four pitches, and has reclaimed his mid-90s heat. That bodes well for Chamberlain and the Yankees, and poorly for the rest of the American League.
BOTTOM 5: RED SOX 4, YANKEES 3
There are some interesting dynamics at work in the bottom of the fifth, one inning after Joba Chamberlain drilled Jason Bay with a pitch. Josh Beckett believes in protecting his teammates when they are hit by sending a fastball into the ribs of an opponent. But the opportunity may not exist to enact that code of justice.
The Sox are clinging to a one-run lead, and all baserunners represent a threat to that margin. Moreover, Beckett has already been suspended once this year for firing at the head of Bobby Abreu, and so the potential exists for another suspension should he be seen as intentionally drumming a Yankee tonight.
Perhaps with that in mind — as well as the fact that he needs to get deeper into today’s game — Beckett focused on retiring the Yankees in the fifth, rather than drilling them. He got Derek Jeter to ground out to short and retired Johnny Damon on a wicked liner to right for the first two outs.
Beckett then got ahead of Mark Teixeira, working to 1-2, but the first baseman dribbled a check-swing single down the third-base line. Beckett remained unperturbed, retiring Hideki Matsui on a soft liner to mid-range center field to retire the side. His pitch count is around 85, so has at least one more inning.
RED SOX 4, YANKEES 0
|4th inning: Chamberlain dominates, Ellsbury leaves||05.05.09 at 8:21 pm ET|
Two things are at work now, as Joba Chamberlain is mowing down the Red Sox with the sort of ruthlessness that the Yankees sought when they moved him to the rotation:
1) There appears to be a bit of a liberal interpretation of the outer edge of the strike zone by home-plate ump Mike DMuro, and New York is wisely exploiting it.
2) Chamberlain’s three-pitch mix of a 93-94 mph fastball, a slider and a diving changeup has disrupted the timing of Sox hitters and allowing Chamberlain to blitz through them.
Chamberlain struck out the side in the fourth, and now has seven punchouts in his last three innings. He got J.D. Drew looking at a changeup that dropped over the outside corner, caught Jeff Bailey off guard with a 93 mph fastball and then, after issuing a two-out walk to Jason Varitek, blew a chest-high 94 mph fastball past Nick Green, who swung and missed to end the inning.
NOTE: JACOBY ELLSBURY WAS REPLACED FOR THE BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH WITH A TIGHT RIGHT HAMSTRING. HE WAS REPLACED IN CENTER BY JONATHAN VAN EVERY.
BOTTOM 4: RED SOX 4, YANKEES 3
Josh Beckett‘s hold on a one-run lead appears tenuous at all times. As was the case against Tampa Bay, the outcomes are of the all-or-nothing variety — strikeouts or hard contact.
That pattern continued to prevail in the fourth. Beckett caught Nick Swisher looking at a curveball, but then allowed a hard double to right by Melky Cabrera. Cabrera may have gotten a bit greedy on a ball that bounced into the corner, chugging towards third. A perfect relay from J.D. Drew in right to second baseman Dustin Pedroia to third baseman Mike Lowell arrived just before Cabrera at third — at least in the estimation of third-base ump Jerry Meals, who called Cabrera out. Replays showed that he may have been safe.
That out proved huge, since Ramiro Pena followed with what should have been an inning-ending grounder to first baseman Jeff Bailey. Bailey booted the ball for a two-base error on which Cabrera would have scored easily. Instead, Beckett rang up Jose Molina on a full-count curveball for his fourth strikeout in as many innings.
RED SOX 4, YANKEES 3
|3rd inning: Beckett finds trouble again||05.05.09 at 7:59 pm ET|
Dustin Pedroia led off the second with a dribbler that Joba Chamberlain could not field. The ball squirted away from Chamberlain’s glove for Pedroia’s fourth infield hit of the year, bringing the second baseman into a tie with Jason Bay for the second-most infield hits on the club.
Chamberlain continued to show a nice collection of pitches, however, getting David Ortiz to strike out on a changeup (the second swing-and-miss of the at-bat, following a whiff at a passing two-seamer that dropped off the outside corner). He then caught Jason Bay looking at a slider for a called third strike, the big right-hander’s fourth strikeout in the last six batters. Through the first eight outs of this game, Chamberlain has twice as many strikeouts (4 to 2) as he had in his last outing against the Sox, which covered 16 outs.
Chamberlain finished the inning by getting Mike Lowell to ground to third on a changeup. Few right-handed pitchers feel confident throwing a change to a right-handed hitter, since the break of the off-speed pitch runs towards the batter. But Chamberlain exhibited few qualms about doing so, to good effect. He is now humming along with three pitches at his disposal, and so the Sox may have been fortunate / wise to jump on his in the first, before he had found his rhythm.
BOTTOM 3: RED SOX 4, YANKEES 0
A seemingly harmless fly ball spawned another big inning given up by Josh Beckett. Jose Molina, the Yankees’ starting catcher with Jorge Posada on the D.L. for at least two weeks with a right hamstring strain, dumped a single to shallow center that landed just out of reach of a diving Jacoby Ellsbury.
That harmless start turned into big trouble quickly for Beckett, who gave up a single to right by Derek Jeter (curve). With runners on first and second, Beckett left a first-pitch fastball (perhaps a two-seamer meant to run off the outside corner) a bit too far up to Johnny Damon. The former Sox crushed his second homer in as many days off a Boston pitcher, his three-run shot landing in the second deck above the right-field grandstand. Beckett, who had not given up any homers in his first three starts of the year, has now allowed six in his last three outings.
Beckett recovered to retire the side, getting Mark Teixeira to punch out once again on a curveball, then getting Hideki Matsui on a fly to shallow left that Mike Lowell — showing no lingering effects from his hip surgery — raced back to catch on the run. Lowell then showed impressive lateral range by gloving a Robinson Cano smash to third for the final out.
Beckett has now alowed 18 runs in his last 12.2 innings.
RED SOX 4, YANKEES 3
|2nd inning: Justice and Nick Swisher||05.05.09 at 7:49 pm ET|
Joba Chamberlain‘s stuff appears to have picked up in the second inning. His fastball, which did not eclipse 91 mph in the first, is at 92-93 in the second. That, in turn, is making it more difficult for Sox hitters to adjust to his off-speed stuff.
Chamberlain struck out Jason Varitek on three straight fastballs, all called strikes on the outside corner. He then punched out Nick Green (after falling behind 3-1) on a full count slider, and completed his tidy, 1-2-3 inning when he got Jacoby Ellsbury to fly to shallow right on a 93 mph fastball.
BOTTOM 2: RED SOX 4, YANKEES 0
Photo day in spring training can lead to some funny outcomes for the course of a full year. For instance, Kevin Youkilis sported the “Youk-Fu” for roughly three days this spring, but the image will follow him for the rest of the year, even though it represents a moment of whimsy.
The Nick Swisher photo that glares out from the Yankee Stadium scoreboard is a rather daunting one, the New York right-fielder looking like he is filled with rage while being captured by the lens for a mug shot. (Sorry – no photo readily available.) And so, perhaps, Josh Beckett was able to fancy himself a sheriff bringing a criminal to justice when he got Swisher to pop out to center.
Beckett then gave up a single to center (his third hit allowed in two innings) to Melky Cabrera, but Beckett wiped out the threat by getting third baseman Ramiro Pena to bounce a curveball to Jeff Bailey at first. Bailey stepped on the bag, then fired to second, where Nick Green slapped the tag on Cabrera to complete the 3-6 double play.
The Yankees are now 1-for-4 with runners on base against Beckett, who has thrown a relatively modest 32 pitches through two.
RED SOX 4, YANKEES 0
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