|Closing Time: Sox left stranded in loss to Yankees||08.30.11 at 11:11 pm ET|
For six innings the Red Sox chipped away at CC Sabathia. They pounded out 10 hits, worked deep counts and drove his pitch count up to the triple digits. But the Sox never could breakthrough against the lefty like they have so many times this season.
They left the bases loaded in the second and stranded runners at second and third in both the fourth and fifth innings. The Sox made Sabathia throw a season-high 128 pitches, but none of them resulted in a hit that could have turned the game around. John Lackey, meanwhile, had a harder time working around his mistakes. He walked four batters in seven innings of work and two of them came around to score.
That ultimately proved to be the difference as the Yankees took the first game of this three-game series, 5-2 Tuesday night at Fenway. The loss draws the Yankees within a half-game of the Sox in the American League East.
There were fireworks as well, which may bode for a long series. It began in the first inning when Lackey appeared to hit Curtis Granderson in the hand. Home plate umpire Ed Rapuano ruled that the pitch actually hit Granderson’s bat, but no matter, Sabathia drilled Jacoby Ellsbury in the bottom of the inning.
That was just a prelude to the seventh when Lackey hit Francisco Cervelli leading off the inning. Cervelli had taken Lackey on to Lansdowne St. in his previous at-bat. Whether that was the reason or not, Cervelli took exception and jawed with Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia before taking his base. The Yankees came out of the dugout, Sox players did the same and ultimately New York pitching coach Larry Rothschild was ejected. The hit by pitch wound up costing the Sox a run, and was emblematic of a frustrating evening for Boston.
As a coda, Saltalamacchia was hit by Mariano Rivera in the ninth, which led to an ejection for Yankee manager Joe Girardi who argued that the catcher had swung at the pitch.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- The Sox left runners on base in every inning. They left the bases loaded twice. They left runners on second and third two other times. They left 16 men on base and scored only two runs with one coming on a Carl Crawford home run, which just about sums up the night.
- Sabathia drove a stake right through the heart of the Red Sox lineup. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez three times — matching his season high — and got Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz two times apiece. He also set down all three in order between the first and second innings. His biggest punch-out came in the the fourth when he got Gonzalez with two on and two outs. For Pedroia, it was the first time he struck out more than once in a game since Aug. 6, which was also against Sabathia.
- Saltalamacchia also struck out three times
- Marco Scutaro took an unnecessary risk trying to stretch a leadoff single into a double in the third. The Sox had made Sabathia work through the first two innings by throwing 50 pitches and it seemed they were about to ready to break through against the big lefty. Instead, Scutaro was cut down at second and another opportunity was wasted.
- That wasn’t the only baserunning mistake of the night. Ortiz got a bad read from second on a Crawford single in the seventh, which cost the Sox a run.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- For three innings the Sox were content to wait out Sabathia and watch his pitch-count rise. Trailing 3-0 in the fourth, Crawford threw a radically different approach at a first-pitch slider and drilled it into the right field seats for a solo home run.
Crawford had a solid night, making a nice catch in left and almost driving in two more with a line drive that found its ways into Robinson Cano‘s glove. He added a single to left off left-handed reliever Boone Logan in the seventh.
- Jed Lowrie, who was in an 0-for-9 rut vs. lefties, went 2-for-3 with a double against Sabathia. He added another single in the seventh and has now had hits in 10 of his last 11 games. It was the fifth three-hit game of the season for Lowrie.
- Matt Albers, who has been on an extended run of ineffectiveness, got the Sox out of a jam in the eighth when he relieved Franklin Morales after the latter allowed a pair of hits. Albers had allowed 13 runs in his last five outings and while it wasn’t always smooth — he hit Jorge Posada to load the bases — he got the job done.
- Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 13 games, a season-high.
- J.D. Drew went 3-for-3 for Pawtucket as he gets closer to a return. The team expects him to be back on Thursday when rosters can expand to 40 active players.
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