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Closing Time: New-look Red Sox take win over Yankees

08.01.14 at 10:13 pm ET
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Not a bad start for the new-look Red Sox.

Just one day after dealing five players on the major league roster in four deadline moves, the Sox began their new direction with a 4-3 win over the Yankees Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak in the opener of their three-game series at Fenway Park .

The Red Sox welcomed a pair of new faces in Allen Craig, who was acquired from St. Louis in a trade for John Lackey, and starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, who was called up to the majors from Triple-A Pawtucket in the wake of trading Jon Lester and Lackey.

Craig contributed a double in a what was a relatively lively offensive effort. The Sox’ four runs were their most in a game since last Friday in Tampa Bay, which is saying much considering they scored just six runs combined in a three-game series against the Blue Jays this week. Eight different players reached base safely in the nine-hit effort.

The offensive effort wasn’t nearly as strong as Ranaudo’s work on the mound, however. The 24-year-old allowed two runs on four hits over six innings for his first big league win. He became the first Red Sox starter to win his major league debut since Felix Doubront did so on June 8, 2010. His only notable mistake came in the fourth inning when Carlos Beltran drove a 1-0 pitch into the bullpen for a solo home run.

“I thought he did a good job of keeping the game under control,” manager John Farrell said of Ranaudo. “There were a number of innings where the leadoff hitter would get on base, threw walks to lead some innings off, but I thought he threw the ball downhill well, kept the ball out of the middle of the plate for the most part.”

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– It was a more than ideal debut for two Red Sox newcomers Friday night. Ranaudo’s effort was most impressive. The rookie held the Yankees to four hits and avoided any high pressure situations. New York had more than one base runner on at a time just once for the game, and failed to score in that situation. Ranaudo was, however, hurt by some command issues. He allowed four walks, struck out one and threw just 53 of his 91 pitches for strikes.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a lot of emotions going out there,” Ranaudo said. “But it’s nice to have that first one under my belt and next time I take the ball, whenever that is, I have that confidence that I have my debut underneath me and I can focus on just getting guys out now.”

Craig got his first hit since July 22 after going 1-for-4 Friday with a double to left in the third. Craig was part of a logjam in the Cardinals’ outfield this season, limiting his playing time while trying to battle career-worst struggles. His four at-bats Friday were his most in a game since July 13.

“It felt really good to get that first hit,” Craig said. “To get that first hit in Fenway Park and get to second, it really means a lot. So I was glad to kind of get that one out of the way and just kind of move on from there, but it was really a specially moment for me.”

– If the Sox are going to improve offensively, they’ll need more run production from the top of the order. Friday was a good start. Hitters one through three – Brock Holt, Pedroia and David Ortiz – combined for four hits, three RBIs and a pair of runs. They were especially key in the Sox’ two-run third inning. Holt led off the frame with a triple to the right field corner, then scored on a ground-rule double by Pedroia to dead center. Ortiz singled to right to score Pedroia and give the Sox something they haven’t had much this season: an early two-run lead. Ortiz has driven in 14 of the Red Sox‘ last 36 runs over their last 11 games.

The triple was a nice boost for Holt, who had just three hits in his last 29 at-bats prior to that plate appearance. The super utility player leads the team with five triples this season. Pedroia, on the other hand, continues to roll. His two-hit effort marked his third multi-hit game in a row and his fifth in the last seven. It was Pedroia’s first multi-RBI game since June 29.

– On Wednesday, the left side of the Sox’ infield included Bogaerts at third base and Stephen Drew at shortstop. On Friday, Will Middlebrooks was at third for his first major league game in over two months and Bogaerts made his long-awaited return to short. The results were solid both on the field and at the plate. Bogaerts went 1-for-4 with a single to extend his hitting streak to six games and Middlebrooks doubled and scored a run.

Bogaerts made a nice diving stop on a Jacoby Ellsbury grounder heading to center field, but the speedy Ellsbury beat out the throw for an infield single. The play ultimately counts as a base hit, but the effort was one worth noting as Bogaerts tries to show he can handle a full-time shortstop role.

– Also making his mark in the field Friday night was Mookie Betts, who made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track in center to rob Ellbury of extra bases. Betts is still new to playing a major league outfield after being forced to switch from his original second base spot, so the catch is sure to give the 21-year-old some confidence as he continues to learn his new position.

“I think I’m still getting more comfortable,” Betts said of playing the outfield. “I think the catch today gave me, maybe, a little more confidence out there. But I’m still learning every day.”

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Junichi Tazawa was hit hard in what was nearly a costly eighth inning for the Red Sox. Derek Jeter led off the inning with a first-pitch solo shot over the Wall in left field. Tazawa would’ve given up a potential triple to deep center to Ellsbury one batter later if it weren’t for Betts’ leaping heroics. Mark Teixeira followed with a ground-rule double and Tazawa walked Brian McCann with two outs and Teixeira on third before escaping trouble by forcing Chase Headley to ground out.

– The Red Sox have found themselves on the wrong side of challenges pretty regularly this season. Friday was no different. Ellsbury was initially called out on a stolen base attempt in the top of the sixth inning. But after a challenge by Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi, the umpires ruled that Ellsbury slid underneath Bogaerts and into second before he could apply the tag. Beltran drove the outfielder in two batters later to score the Yankees‘ second run.

– David Ross left the game after the sixth inning due to what was described as right foot plantar fasciitis recurrence. Ross was hobbling to first while running out a ground ball he hit to third. The catcher was immediately replaced by Christian Vazquez the following inning.

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