Closing Time: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1
|04.07.10 at 10:32 pm ET|
The game was following the perfect script for the Red Sox. John Lackey, in his debut with his new club, delivered a brilliant performance, throwing six shutout innings. He stood to claim the victory on a night when David Ortiz delivered his first hit of the young season, an RBI single that seemed like it might be enough to give the Sox a 1-0 victory.
But then, the Yankees pieced together a run in the top of the seventh when Victor Martinez proved unable to handle the short-hop on J.D. Drew‘s throw home, allowing Jorge Posada to clamber home and tie the game, 1-1. In extras, Curtis Granderson turned on a Jonathan Papelbon fastball, launching it deep into the right field grandstand to put the Yankees up, 2-1, in the top of the 10th.
New York tacked on a run, and Mariano Rivera locked down career save No. 528 to secure the victory.
Key play of the game
Obviously, Curtis Granderson‘s blast into the right field grandstand to lead off the top of the 10th inning was the decisive play of the game. The bigger question is whether Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon should have still been in the game to serve up the longball.
On the one hand, Papelbon had not only pitched a scoreless ninth inning, but he had also gotten up to warm in the middle of the eighth inning. The Sox do account for that sort of bullpen work in evaluating a proper workload for a reliever on any given night.
On the other hand, the Sox closer overpowered the Yankees with just 10 pitches in the ninth inning, and didn’t have to work particularly hard in retiring Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.
With the Sox having an off-day between the contest against the Yankees and Friday’s series opener in Kansas City, it’s not hard to see why the Sox decided to keep Papelbon in the game, the outcome notwithstanding.
What went right for the Sox
–John Lackey’s initial returns on the Red Sox’ sizable investment were impressive.
The big right-hander, who came to the Sox after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal this offseason, was little short of dazzling in his first game for Boston. Lackey was armed with a well-located four-pitch combination (fastball, curve, slider, cutter) that he employed to carve the Yankees over six shutout innings.
He held New York to three hits and no runs while walking two and striking out three in a debut. He threw 100 pitches, 58 for strikes, and left with a 1-0 lead. Though the Sox bullpen gave up the lead in the top of the seventh (a run charged to Scott Schoeneweis), Lackey’s performance was little short of spectacular.
–Before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees, David Ortiz said that he felt great — both physically and at the plate — and that the ongoing attention that his 0-for-7 start to the year was receiving remained mind-boggling to him.
“I’ve been seeing [expletive] for years here,” Ortiz told WEEI.com. “But what I’ve been seeing after two games, it’s like the season will be over tomorrow.”
Given his familiarity with the rhythms of Boston, Ortiz is also no doubt aware that he managed to nudge the Ortiz Watch from orange to yellow, at least for a day. The Sox DH delivered his first hit of the season, a sharp single to right field with two outs in the bottom of the third to plate the first Red Sox run. Ortiz turned on a 90 mph, thigh-high fastball on the inner half of the plate and rifled it into right field, ending his 0-for-8 start to the season.
He did later strike out against Pettitte and Chan Ho Park, both on sliders.
–Scott Schoeneweis, for the second time in the three-game series, looked great against lefties. He punched out both Robinson Cano and Granderson in the top of the seventh with the Sox holding a 1-0 lead. On the downside, however, he gave up a rocket to switch-hitter Jorge Posada (who was batting right-handed). Posada doubled off the base of the center field wall, and scored the tying run when Nick Swisher lined a single to right against Daniel Bard.
What went wrong for the Sox
–The Sox lineup failed to take advantage of opportunities for the second straight night. After a 1-for-12 night with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, the team went 1-for-7 on Wednesday. The Sox had plenty of scoring chances early, but stranded a pair of runners in both the first and second innings and another in the third. By that point, Yankees starter Andy Pettitte settled into a groove in which he attacked both sides of the plate with his fastball, slider and cutter, and the Sox could muster little against him.
–Though Jacoby Ellsbury managed an infield single, the Yankees allowed him to make little hard contact all series. He finished the three games having gone 3-for-15 (.200) with four strikeouts.
– Victor Martinez gunned down Cano on a stolen base attempt in the top of the third inning. While seeing Martinez — who was 2-for-17 on stolen base attempts last year — deliver a strong throw to clip Cano was a promising sign for the Sox, it is noteworthy that Cano was running at all, since he entered the game 17-for-38 in his career in stolen base attempts.
That was a reminder that opposing teams will run on the Sox and Martinez until they prove they can control the running game. Indeed, in the fourth, Granderson swiped second against Martinez, and Brett Gardner later collected a steal. Martinez threw out 1-of-5 attempted base thieves in the series.
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