Yesterday I pontificated that I thought it was important for the Yankees to make a statement in their final regular season series with the Boston Red Sox. Last night's 9-5 Yankees' win did just that.
It was a satisfying win on many levels. A huge offensive game for Alex Rodriguez. A battering, literally and figuratively of top notch Red Sox starter Jon Lester. 7 stolen bases against catcher Jason Varitek and the Sox pitching staff. And most importantly, an effective start by Joba Chamberlain.
The man for whom the rules were written, went six innings for the first time in a month and a half. He allowed three runs and looked like the aggressive, hard throwing Joba that the Yankees will need in the post-season. He threw 86 pitches and was one out away from allowing just one run, when David Ortiz hit a 2-run home run off of him in the top of the 6th.
But Chamberlain also worked himself out of jams. It was something he hadn't been able to do of late. The Red Sox had 2nd and 3rd with just no out in the 5th inning, but Chamberlain retired Varitek on a foul out, struck out Alex Gonzalez, and got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out to Mark Teixeira to retire the side.
Chamberlain's teammates were aggressive at the plate, as well as the basepaths, in giving him an early lead to work with. Derek Jeter singled to start the 1st inning, stole 2nd, and scored on Rodriguez' single. With a man aboard in the 4th, A-Rod hit a long home run into the second deck in left field for a 3-0 lead.
The Yankees then loaded the bases on Lester before Melky Cabrera hit a line drive off the pitcher's right leg. Lester went down in a heap and left the game with a bruised quad. The Yankees continued to pile on the runs and Joe Girardi mixed and matched the bullpen as the Yankees earned their 98th win.
It was a tremendous game for Rodriguez, who finished 3-3 with two walks, 4 RBI, 3 runs scored, and 3 stolen bases. Remarkably, despite missing a chunk of time at the beginning of the season, A-Rod is just seven RBI shy of 100. The home run was his 581st, two shy of Mark McGwire for 8th place on the all-time list.