In the first inning, in Game One of this very important four-game series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, it looked like we were all going to treated to another classic battle between these two great rivals.
David Ortiz blasted a solo homer (#24) in the top of the inning to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead. Then, after Derek Jeter led off the bottom of the first with a single, his 2,873th career hit that tied the Captain with Babe Ruth on the all-time hit list, Mark Teixeira also belted his 24th homer, that moved the Bombers into a 2-1 lead.
At this point, it seemed both starting pitchers, Clay Buchholz for the Red Sox and Javier Vazquez for the Yankees, would not last past the fifth inning, as surely this game would probably take over four hours to complete with the bullpens battling it for the victory.
But, the game was really decided in the top of the second inning.
Beltre started off the inning with a double, before J.D. Drew made the first out on a pop up to second. Mike Lowell was the next batter, and hit what looked like a very easy pop up just in front of the plate on the first base side of the infield. Both Vazquez and cacher Francisco Cervelli converged around the spot were the ball was likely to descend from the beautiful Bronx sky. At the last second, Cervelli called for the ball with Vazquez standing almost nose to nose with his catcher. The ball approached Cervelli and he dropped it, as the ball deflected off his mit, falling to the ground.
After the game, Cervelli said, “I moved my glove late and dropped it [the ball]. It was my fault; I’m supposed to catch that ball.”
Vazquez had second thoughts after the game, saying, “I’m a pretty good fielder, and should have called him off. You never know how the game goes from there.”
Well, the game did not go very well for the Yankees after that play, as the Red Sox took full advantage of Cervelli’s error with some help from Vazquez.
Rookie Ryan Kalish struck out to record the second out of the inning. But, Vazquez then walked the ninth place hitter Jed Lowrie to load the bases. And also walked the next batter Jacoby Ellsbury to force in the tying run. Marco Scutaro completed the embarrassing Yankee inning by hitting a two-RBI double that scored Lowell and Lowrie, giving the Red Sox a 4-2 lead.
That was basically the ballgame.
The Yanks scored a run in the fifth to cut the Sox lead to 4-3. And the rookie left-fielder Kalish, playing in only his seventh game for the Sox, blasted his first career homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, to cap the scoring in this game. Red Sox 6, Yankees 3.
Clay Buchholz (12-5), pitched a solid game, tossing 97 pitches over 7 and a third innings, allowing three runs, on nine hits, four strikeouts, and no walks, to earn the win.
Javier Vazquez (L, 9-8), lasted five and a third innings, giving up all six runs (three unearned), on six hits (including two homers), four walks, and four strikeouts.
Both bullpens were solid, with Jonathan Papelbon earning his 27th save. And, Derek Jeter won a temendous battle against Papelbon in the ninth by working a 12-pitch walk with two outs in the inning.
Nick Swisher flied out to left for the final out of the game which lasted only three hours and seventeen minutes, a very short amount of time for a complete game by Yankee and Red Sox standards.
The Tampa Bay Rays (67-42), lost 2-1 against the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. So, the Yankees (67-41) remain in first place in the AL East by half a game over the Rays.
But, as I keep telling my Yankee friends, do not count out the Boston Red Sox (63-47), who are in third place, five games behind the Yanks. There are still many games to play, and this will be a three-team race between the Yanks, Rays, and Sox, right down to the wire in the AL East.
In the Yankees final 19 games of the season, the Bombers play the Rays seven times, and play the Red Sox six times, including the final three games of the season at Fenway Park.
Right now, though, the Yankees need to focus on winning the next three games of “this” series, so the Red Sox do not get too close to first place at this point of the season.
– Jimmy Curran “BY&L” – Baseball, The Yankees, and Life …