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Closing Time: Yankees pummel Franklin Morales, Red Sox

08.17.12 at 9:58 pm ET
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NEW YORK — It’s virtually impossible to win without good, consistent starting pitching, a fact of which the Red Sox have been reminded over and over this season. The latest instance came on Friday night, as the Yankees took advantage of the dimensions of their home ballpark — and some mislocated pitches by Sox starter Franklin Morales — to claim a 6-4 victory in Yankee Stadium.

Morales was charged with five runs in 5 1/3 innings, nudging the ERA of the Red Sox rotation up to 4.84, 26th in the majors. It wouldn’t matter whether the Red Sox had a pleasant or radioactive clubhouse — with that sort of performance from the rotation, the team is almost certainly condemned to an early end to its 2012 season. The Sox are now an astonishing 13 1/2 games behind the Yankees after 120 games.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

— Just as he did on July 7 against the Yankees, left-hander Franklin Morales allowed four homers to New York. Though all were of the solo variety, it was a startling development given that a) Morales allowed just two other hits on Friday and b) while he’s now given up eight homers in 8 2/3 innings against the Yankees, he has only given up one other homer in 34 1/3 innings in his other six starts. For the first time all year, Morales also gave up a homer to Curtis Granderson when the Yankees center fielder took him out to right.

— After a four-run rally in the third that was gift-wrapped by a throwing error from Yankees starter Phil Hughes, the Red Sox offense disappeared. The team had just three additional baserunners over the duration of the night, only one of whom got as far as second base. In the absence of David Ortiz, the Sox are now 12-18 while averaging 4.6 runs per game.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s August struggles continued, as the catcher went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. In 11 contests this month, he’s hitting .163/.217/.163/.380 with 17 strikeouts in 46 plate appearances.

Pedro Ciriaco, who entered the game 11-for-22 against the Yankees, went 0-for-3.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

— For the third time in his career, Dustin Pedroia launched a homer on his birthday. Now 29, the second baseman blasted a three-run homer to deep left-center, his 10th homer of the year. With the blast, Pedroia became the sixth second baseman ever to hit 10 or more homers in each of his age 24-28 seasons, joining Hall of Famers Joe Gordon and Ryne Sandberg as well as Robinson Cano, Jose Vidro and Ray Durham. He also now has a 12-game hitting streak during which he is hitting .455/.481/.660.

Mike Aviles, who was hitless in eight straight at-bats entering Friday, went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. Though he also made a throwing error (on a play in which his foot might have given way on the wet grass), he also made a dazzling, diving play to his left on a 6-3 putout.

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