|04.24.09 at 9:51 pm ET|
Hideki Okajima enters to start the seventh, Jon Lester‘s evening having concluded after six innings. He allowed seven hits, two runs (earned), three walks and punched out seven. He threw 114 pitches, 67 strikes – his highest pich total of the year.
Joba Chamberlain‘s line: 5.1, 9H, 2R (1ER), four walks, two strikeouts (both of David Ortiz), and four absolutely enormous double-play balls. He threw 91 pitches, and 49 strikes. That’s nine waks in two games for Chamberlain. Between his diminished command and the disappearance of his explosive fastball, there must be some concern on that front for the Yankees.
As for the seventh: perhaps Okajima gets a warm and fuzzy feeling when facing the Yankees in April. It was, after all, in the first game of a three-game set in 2007 against the Yankees that he had his coming-out party, filling in to record the final three outs in place of Jonathan Papelbon. Okajima pitched in all three games of that weekend’s sweep, establishing himself as a rookie phenomenon.
But if those pleasant thoughts accompanied the left-hander to the mound, they did not stay with him for long. Derek Jeter led off with a long fly down the right-field line. J.D. Drew appeared to have alligator arms as he approached the low wall by the Pesky Pole, the ball just eluding his reach for a leadoff double.
Johnny Damon then followed by pushing a bunt between the pitcher’s mound and first base. It appeared a routine sacrifice, but after Okajima fielded it, he appeared to have little idea what to do with the ball. He hesitated and threw softly to first, with Damon beating the throw for a single to put runners on the corners. (Okajima has just 15 assists in his career, but no errors.)
That brought Mark Teixeira to the plate with an opportunity to determine, in all likelihood, the outcome of his first Yankees-Red Sox game. He went ahead 3-0, then swung over the top of a split-change. (In his career, Teixeira is 5-for-11 (.455 average) on 3-0 counts.) He then fouled off a couple pitches, before hitting a jam shot up the middle. But Teixeira was able to muscle the ball over the head of Nick Green (playing in for the double play) to plate Jeter with a go-ahead run. Jorge Posada then followed with a bloop hit of his own, muscling a fastball up and in to shallow right for another single to load the bases.
That signaled the end of Okajima’s outing, an exercise in death by blooping. He failed to record an out and allowed four hits, but Jeter’s ball may have been catchable, Damon’s was certainly playable, and neither Teixeira’s nor Posada’s were hit more than 150 feet. The box score won’t suggest that.
Okajima allowed four or more hits for just the third time as a Red Sox, and failed to record an out while doing so for the first time.
Manny Delcarmen came on to replace Okajima with no outs and the bases loaded. In his career entering tonight, opponents were hitting .368 (7-for-19) against the reliever with the bases juiced.
But tonight, he limited any further damage. He got Nick Swisher on a fly to medium depth in left, too shallow for Damon to advance. He then got another shallow pop to left-center from Robinson Cano, with left-fielder Jason Bay racing to his left and diving to catch. Damon was able to score on the sac fly, but a vital second out had been secured. Delcarmen then got Melky Cabrera to roll over to second to end the inning.
Both runs are charged to Okajima, who gives up two or more runs in an outing for the eighth time in his Red Sox career and for the third time against New York.
BOTTOM 7: YANKEES 4, RED SOX 2
The Red Sox seemingly had the right personnel to counter the Yankees’ two-run seventh, but New York pitchers have handled Boston’s 3-4-5 hitters tonight. Reliever Phil Coke continued the trend, getting David Ortiz to fly lazily to left, and getting Kevin Youkilis to follow with a fly to center.
Coke was nearly able to forge the first 1-2-3 inning of the game, but on a 2-2 slider, J.D. Drew barely checked his swing (to the surprise of several Yankees, who had started on their way to the dugout, and the right-fielder then walked on the next pitch. That was it for Coke, who was replaced by Jonathan Albaladejo. Albaladejo has not been particularly good against righties, yielding a .308 average against them prior to tonight, but he retired Jason Bay on a hard-hit grounder to short, and the Yankees take a two-run lead into the eighth.
YANKEES 4, RED SOX 2
|04.24.09 at 9:27 pm ET|
(For all the updates from Yankees Land, check out the Yankees LoHud Blog)
This is officially the most pitches Jon Lester has thrown in a game, with his last two start including 106 and 108, respectively. Last season he had one game in which he tossed over 100 pitches in the month of April (106). He finished ’08 having thrown more than 100 pitches 17 times, not having given up a run after passing the century mark in any of those appearances.
Lester finished this game having thrown 114 pitches, a total he reached on five occasions during the regular season last year.
The Red Sox have hit into four double plays (and that doesn’t include two others the Yankees should have turned), which is the most since ’08. The Sox are 24-45 when hitting four or more double plays since 1954. The twin-killings, of course, have been a huge reason why the Sox entered the sixth still trailing. Leaving seven on base through five with four double-plays is not any way to go through life.
Bay flew out in his third at-bat against Chamberlain, but already made his mark against the righty, not only notching a pair of hits but serving as the first two times Joba has allowed a hit to somebody leading off an inning this season. Mike Lowell kept the pressure on Chamberlain, launching a double off the left field wall after eluding a high and tight fastball. Jason Varitek followed with a single, to give the Sox runners on first and third, a situation Joba had faced once this season coming into tonight, resulting in an RBI single.
Chamberlain had his problems with runners at the corner again, allowing Nick Green to hit his 90th, and final pitch, into right field to tie the game at 2-2. This brings on reliever Phil Coke. Let’s see if we can find something interesting on Coke (besides the fact he has pitched in seven games and surrendered two or more runs in three of them) …
Coke went to San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif. There you have it. Oh, and I’m finding two Phil Coke’s listed in the United States, one in Oregon and one in Miami. And I didn’t find Coke jumping a car or anything else interesting on You Tube, but I did find a listing: ‘Phil Drinks Diet Coke and Mentos’
RED SOX 2, YANKEES 2
|04.24.09 at 9:05 pm ET|
In case you missed it, Joba Chamberlain has been navigating the razor’s edge tonight thanks to three double play balls. He’s gotten twin killings in the first, second and fourth innings, the first time he’s ever recorded three double plays in the same game. Both sides are stranding baserunners a-plenty: six each, to be precise.
Jon Lester takes the mound for the fifth with a decent possibility that this will be his final inning. His command struggles (he has thrown fewer than 60 percent of his pitches for strikes) have led to an elevated pitch count that is creeping close to 100 during the fifth inning.
Mark Teixeira led off the fifth, and promptly bounced a 1-1 fastball to third. The hop did not carom quite as high as did his third-inning bounder, and so Mike Lowell was able to zip his throw to first for the first out of the inning.
Lester then continued to make Jorge Posada‘s night miserable, with the Yankees catcher/DH whiffing for the third time of the evening, and the second time on a curveball. Lester is now at seven strikeouts, one short of the number he achieved in each of his three starts against the Yankees in 2008.
Nick Swisher, robbed of a double his last time at the plate, foiled a Lester curveball that was a good three inches off the plate. He popped a double down the right-field line. In one sense, the double didn’t matter when Melky Cabrera followed with a fly-out, the extra pitches may have signaled the end of the left-hander’s outing. Presuming that Lester’s night is done after 102 pitches – not a sure thing, especially since the Sox bullpen is quiet as we move to the bottom of the inning – it is his least efficient outing since he required 102 pitches for five innings on August 13, 2006, against the Orioles.
BOTTOM 5: YANKEES 2, RED SOX 1
Somehow, even though Joba Chamberlain has been in the strike zone with barely 50 percent of his pitches, he is working at a far more efficient clip than Lester. The double plays have been a huge part of that, of course.
Chamberlain has yet to record a 1-2-3 inning today, and that trend continued when he issued a leadoff walk to Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia has two walks and a double this game. It is Pedroia’s first multi-walk game of 2009, and just the ninth of his career. He’s never walked more than twice in a game.
After Pedroia’s walk, David Ortiz stayed back and whacked a curve to right. It was just Ortiz’ second hit to right at Fenway this year, as he’s instead been content to pepper the Wall.
Once again, Chamberlain used the groundball to escape a threat. With runners on first and second and no outs, he got Kevin Youkilis to bounce into a fielder’s choice, and then shattered J.D. Drew‘s bat on a first-pitch fastball. Chamberlain ducked and covered his head as both ball and helicoptering bat head flew by him, but the bouncer still resulted in an easy 6-4-3 double play — the fourth DP of the night for Chamberlain.
It is the most double-play balls that the Sox have hit into since June 10, 2008. The team is 34-45 when hitting into four or more double plays in a game since 1954.
|04.24.09 at 8:48 pm ET|
(For all the updates from Yankees Land, check out the Yankees LoHud Blog)
For what it’s worth, entering tonight Jon Lester has not given up a fourth-inning run all year. Also, that Melky Cabrera stolen base in the second inning was the first of the year against Lester. Speaking of Cabrera, he continued his ownership of the Sox lefty, rifling a one-out single back up the middle, giving him six hits in nine at-bats against the starter.
After throwing another first-pitch strike, this time to Jose Molina, Lester has led off all but three of his batters with a strike. Molina would walk (Lester’s third free pass of the night), putting the lefty’s pitch count at 75. From pitches 51-75 this season Lester had held opponents to a .167 batting average. But from pitches 76-100 the number jumps up to .389. Lester has faced only three batters while going past 100 pitches.
Cody Ransom broke Lester’s fourth-inning scoreless streak, hitting a 91 mph fastball down the third base line for a run-scoring double. In search of the most interesting thing about Ransom, New Bedford Standard Times scribe Jon Couture surmised that he is the only person in America with the name ‘Cody Ransom’. We’re not sure about this. There are two Cody Ransom’s listed in Louisiana, yet this Cody Ransom hails from Arizona. The search goes on.
As for the real most interesting thing about Cody Ransom … not even close:
Oh, and by the way, Derek Jeter’s fielder’s choice grounder scored Molina for the Yankees‘ second run. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Lester got out of the inning by fanning Johnny Damon, who had entered the game 5 for 12. Jeter came in 5 for 13. After four, Lester stands at 88 pitches, 51 strikes. The Sox starter came in averaging 17.1 pitches per inning, which was a jump up from his 15.7 of a year ago.
Bay might have found his American League Aaron Harang (whom he is hitting .370 with five home runs against) in Chamberlain, now having gotten three hits in four at-bats against the Yankees starter after a leadoff double in the fourth. After a Mike Lowell fly out, Chamberlain came a bit unglued, first hitting Jason Varitek and then throwing wide to Jeter on a sure 1-6-3 double play grounder by Nick Green, allowing for the bases to be loaded. It was the first-ever error by Chamberlain, who got out of the inning by inducing a 4-6-3 double play by Jacoby Ellsbury. It also marked the most double plays ever induced in one game by Joba (3).
And we would be remiss if we didn’t note the hit-by-pitch, which didn’t elicit any sort of venom from either side. (As noted on the site before, no warnings were given prior to the series). Here is a brief history of hits batsmen in series involving these teams.
YANKEES 2, RED SOX 1
|04.24.09 at 8:12 pm ET|
Interesting note from Gary From Chapel Hill:
Did you know that Lester never had three strikeouts in an inning last season? He’s already done it three times in 2009… all 3 in the 2nd inning. He did it once in 2006 (also the 2nd inning) and once in 2007 (1st inning).
Jon Lester enters the inning with 38 pitches, the lone hang-up of a second inning in which he struck out the side. Pitch count could become an issue. Indeed, pitch efficiency was part of the reason that he worked hard to integrate a change this spring, so that he would get early-count balls rather than seeing batters get deep into counts with foul ball after foul ball on cutters and other pitches.
Lester jumped ahead of leadoff man Derek Jeter, and on a 1-2 count, the Yankee captain grounded to Team USA pal Dustin Pedroia for the first out of the inning. (Jeter, by the way, leads all active major leaguers with 236 career hits and 195 career games against the Red Sox.)
With one out, Lester also jumped ahead of Johnny Damon. But Lester got the count to 1-2, Damon fought his way back — the magic wand producing its usual two-strike foul ball on the way — and Damon lined a full-count offering over leaping shortstop Nick Green for his first hit of the game. Damon (6-for-14), like fellow left-hander Melky Cabrera (5-for-9), has enjoyed quite a bit of career success against Lester, a fact that is slightly surprising given that Lester has held lefties to a .254 average and .706 OPS, compared to a .273 average and .745 OPS against righties.
With Damon on first, Lester got the outcome he was looking for: a grounder hammered into the dirt by Mark Teixeira. But the bounce was quite high, permitting Damon to scoot into second and allowing Teixeira to reach first safely. But Lester responded by catching Jorge Posada looking at a 94 mph fastball on the black. With two on and two out, Nick Swisher stepped to the plate.
Swisher — whom the Sox tried to acquire from the White Sox this offseason — leads the Yankees with 12 RBIs, but just two of those have come with two outs and runners in scoring position. That number should have gone up, as the switch-hitting Swisher (battting right-handed) ripped a 92 mph fastball down the left-field line. But Mike Lowell dove and speared the ball, robbing Swisher of a run-scoring double and ending the Yankee threat.
The Yankees have stranded five through three innings. Lester, who struck out eight Yankees in each of his three starts against New York last year, has fanned five thus far.
BOTTOM 3: RED SOX 1, YANKEES 0
Nick Green‘s unexpectedly strong start continued. He led off the third by lining a single to center. He is now 3-for-11 when leading off an inning this year.
After Jacoby Ellsbury fouled out to the catcher on the first pitch he saw, Chamberlain threw an up-and-in pitch (slightly up and slightly in) to Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia was utterly unphased: the next pitch was a 92 mph fastball, again up and on the inside corner, that Pedroia ripped down the left-field line for a double.
It is worth noting that Chamberlain’s fastball velocity has been rather pedestrian in the early going. While he’s touched 95, he’s mostly been working at 92-93 mph, and he has yet to record a single swing and miss on a fastball. In fact, he’s only had a couple swings and misses, both on off-speed pitches (a slider and a curve) to David Ortiz.
The second of those swings and misses, in fact, came when Ortiz followed Pedroia to the plate with runners on second and third and one out. Ortiz swung and missed at a 2-1 curve, and then stared at a 93 mph fastball low and away for strike three.
Kevin Youkilis, who went ahead in the count 3-1, was then intentionally walked in favor of J.D. Drew. Drew lined a ball towards the gap in left-center, but it was tracked down by Johnny Damon for the third out.
Youkilis has now been intentionally walked three times this year, the most glaring instance coming here, as a right-hander pitched to the left-handed Ortiz, pitched around Youkilis, then pitched to the left-handed Drew. Clearly, Youkilis is the most feared hitter right now in the heart of the Red Sox’ order.
This was the second time this year that the Sox had a second-and-third situation with one out, and the first time that they wasted such an opportunity without scoring a run.
RED SOX 1, YANKEES 0
|04.24.09 at 7:55 pm ET|
(Don’t forget to check out what’s happening over in Yankees Land at the LoHud Yankees Blog)
In case you were wondering: Jon Lester attempted a pickoff throw in the first inning, it was his eighth of the year. Of those eight attempts he has three pickoffs. Pretty decent average I would say.
Nick Swisher continues his struggles against Lester, striking out looking to now come in at 1 for 7 against the lefty (albeit that ‘1’ being a home run). Robinson Cano also went down looking. The next batter, Melky Cabrera (5 for 8 against Lester), swung at the first pitch, which is exactly what Derek Jeter did in notching a hit to lead off the game. It was only the sixth time this season Cabrera had offered at first pitch in 26 opportunities (putting three in play). It will be interesting to see if the Yankees take an aggressive approach toward the Sox starter, with Lester having thrown first-pitch strikes to all but two of the nine batters he faced in the opening two innings.
Cabrera would work a walk, as would Jose Molina following him. Cabrera also stole the Yankees 11th base of the season, with New Yorkers having been caught just twice thus far. Not surprisingly, both the Red Sox and Yankees come into their three-game series having seen among the most pitches of any lineup in the American League. New York hitters have averaged 3.96 pitches per plate appearance (3rd in the AL), while the Red Sox (4th) had worked 3.88 per time to the plate.
Lester would get out of the first and second jam by fanning Cody Ransom, only after the pitcher thought he had the Yankee hitter punched out two pitches earlier on a check swing (one which first base umpire Jim Wolf did not believe warranted a strike call).
The 100 mph Joba Chamberlain is not in the building tonight, with his fastball topping out at 93 mph thus far and sitting in the low 90’s. He is, however, throwing his heater more to right-handed batters than last year, 15 percent more of the time, to be exact. It hasn’t been an approach that has paid off thus far, with right-handers hitting .333 against him compared to a .182 clip against lefties.
One of those righties, Jason Bay, continued that trend — and his own — by ripping a single to leadoff the second, making the left fielder 2 for 3 againt Chamberlain for his career. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Bay’s hit was followed by a Mike Lowell 6-4 3 double play grounder, and Jason Varitek’s pop-up to end the inning.
Red Sox 1, Yankees 0
|04.24.09 at 7:35 pm ET|
At 7:12 p.m., Mark Teixeira was introduced to the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry in precisely the manner he expected: with a chorus of boos. It was neither sustained nor ferocious, though there was apparent delight taken by Sox fans when he swung and missed at the first offering he saw from Jon Lester.
Teixeira’s trip to the dish occurred in the top of the first, with a man on first (Derek Jeter led off the game by lining the first pitch into right for a single, improving to 3-for-15 (.200) in the first inning this season) and one out (Johnny Damon having flied to the warning track in left).
As Teixeira freely admitted before the game, he has a terrible track record in Fenway Park. (Teixeira also clarified that his lack of success in Boston – which he suggested was the byproduct of the quality of Red Sox pitching staffs through the years – was not a factor in his free-agent decision.) He dragged a .194 careeer average at Fenway, albeit with a .363 slugging mark, and .274 slugging percentage into his first Yankee plate appearance in Boston. He did not improve that history, instead falling behind 1-2 and then flying meekly to left on a Lester curveball.
Lester’s curve, in fact, has looked particularly sharp in the early going. After Teixeira flew out, Jorge Posada struck out swinging on a 2-2 curveball (the second bender that the Yankees‘ D.H. swung-and-missed in the at-bat). Gary points out that Posada entered the game with 14 RBI in 27 career first inning AB against the Red Sox. He does not improve upon that total here.
So, Lester strands Jeter by retiring three straight, giving the Sox a chance to get on the board first against Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees.
BOTTOM 1: YANKEES 0, RED SOX 0
It was the Jacoby Ellsbury show in the bottom of the first. The Red Sox leadoff hitter continued his recent roll. He entered today hitting .316 in his last eight games, and continued his run by jumping on a 1-1 curveball from Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain and lining it into right.
Ellsbury already has six steals this season, a fact of which the Yankees are clearly mindful. On an 0-1 pitch, the Yankees pitched out, but Chamberlain rushed into the delivery and was called for a balk for his failure to stop and come to a set position. (It was the third balk of Chamberlain’s career, following two he committed in 2008. Gary From Chapel Hill points out that the Yankees balked for only the 11th time at Fenway since 1954. The Red Sox won 9 of those 11 games.)
Ellsbury then took off for third, and Yankees catcher Jose Molina appeared to rise a bit too early on a low pitch that ended up skidding beneath his glove for a wild pitch. Ellsbury, as he is sometimes wont to do, kept on trucking after he pulled into third, opening up into another gear and sliding safely into home behind the tag of an off-balance Chamberlain for the first run of the game.
Chamberlain is struggling with his command in the early going here. One start removed from issuing a career-high five walks to the Indians, he followed the Ellsbury run by walking Dustin Pedroia, striking out David Ortiz (nasty 83 mph slider) and walking Kevin Youkilis (no suspiciously inside pitches) to put runners on first and second. But with two-on and one-out, Chamberlain got J.D. Drew to roll over to second for a 4-6-3 double play, and so despite the fact that just 10 of his 22 first-inning pitches were strikes, he limits the damage to one unearned run.
In case you were wondering, despite the past history between Chamberlain and Youkilis, a major-league source has indicated that there were no pre-game warnings between the Red Sox and Yankees.
This from GFCH: the Sox are 40-11 since start of last season when they lead after the first inning.
RED SOX 1, YANKEES 0
|04.24.09 at 6:26 pm ET|
The following from Yankees manager Joe Girardi concerning the rehab of the torn labrum in his right hip.
‘Alex told me that it was his best day yet,” Girardi said. “He felt stronger hitting, running, throwing, fielding than he has at any point in this rehab process. The target date is still May 15. Maybe we get him earlier, maybe we don’t.’
‘We’re nearing it,” Girardi added. “The one thing I don’t want to do is put a date out because I don’t want him to feel rushed. But we’re getting fairly close.’
Asked if he thought he was missed in this rivalry, Girardi had this observation.
“I’m sure the (Boston) fans miss him a little bit,” the skipper said.
“Joba’s not the first one in this rivalry to throw up and in…I don’t think it’s intentional…we don’t encourage (throwing at someone’s head). I know Terry doesn’t encourage it,” Girardi said.
|04.24.09 at 6:21 pm ET|
Joe Girardi admits there concern about Chien-Ming Wang.
Wang was seen Thursday by soft-tissue expert Dr. Mark Lindsay, the same doctor who has seen Alex Rodriguez.
‘We had him take a look at Chien,’ Girardi said. ‘There’s some concern of ours because the velocity has been down a little bit and that’s not totally abnormal in the month of April. Maybe his foot injury, there’s a weakness somewhere in his lower half.
‘There’s some concern that he’s not as strong as needs to be,’ Girardi said.
‘It’s what we’re seeing,” Girardi added. “A lot of times, when you have a weakness, it can build over a long period of time and you don’t notice it. But if you were to go from June, before he got hurt, to now in one step you might notice it. So, that’s why we wanted to have him evaluated by Dr. Lindsay.’
Wang is scheduled to start next on Tuesday. If he doesn’t Philip Hughes is a likely callup to replace him.
Mark Teixeira on returning to Fenway, this time as a Yankee: ‘It’s not a joke, it’s passionate fans. These people in Boston are great baseball fans. They know the game, they’re knowledgeable, they love the Red Sox, they live and die with every pitch. And when a Yankee comes to town, especially a Yankee that could’ve been a Red Sox, they’re going to boo. They’re going to be into the game.’
‘I was close (to signing) with all the teams. Every team that I dealt with in free agency had an opportunity. We gave everyone an opportunity. So I was close with everybody.’
What he expects: ‘Lots of boos. Loud, hopefully a good game and hopefully the fans get their moneys-worth tonight.’
‘This is probably the best rivalry in sports. My dad’s a Navy man so Army-Navy kind of up there for national pride. But when you talk about professional sports, I think Lakers-Celtics are up there and Red Sox-Yankees are one of the best.’
|04.24.09 at 6:17 pm ET|
(Don’t forget to check out what’s going on over at Yankees Land at the LoHud Blog)
‘I don’t really know what happened between him and Youk. I don’t think it’s right if he threw at purpose at youk. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. At the end of the day, he’s that kind of guy that, you know, people could get the wrong idea about him. The game is totally different. I bet you a lot of people think about the same thing with Josh. And Josh is the guy, when he goes out there, he just tries to pitch his game. He’s a great guy. But I bet you there are some other players who have the wrong idea about him. This is how the games go. The better you play the game out there and the little bit you behave, the more respect you get from people.’
Also, caught up to Nick Green — that’s former Yankee Nick Green — before the game and asked him about the part of his game most people identify as his strong suit, his throwing arm.
Green said the last time he pitched was at Darton College, and was clocked at about 91 mph (although he thinks he can throw harder now). The Sox shortstop said that his velocity clicked up a tick or two thanks to some instruction by former Red Sox manager Jimy Williams, who emphasized Green using his lower half to throw.
Another interesting note on Green’s approach to playing shortstop is that he has had to make a point to use a four-seam grip on his throws to first because of the difference in distance than where he was usually playing at second. Because of the extra territory to cover on his throws, he finds if he doesn’t use a four-seam it will sink at an inopportune time, just before arriving at first base. That, he explained, was what happened on his throwing error on Michael Cuddyer’s grounder Wednesday.
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