Friday, September 2, 2011

Red Sox Get Martinized

The prospects for the Yankees winning 2 of 3 in Boston were not good, considering that A.J. Burnett, he of the 13.86 ERA in his last three starts, was going up against Red Sox stud Jon Lester in the series finale Thursday night. But John Sterling is occassionally right, especially when he says you can't predict baseball. Burnett kept the Yankees in the game through his 5.1 innings and Russell Martin delivered a clutch 2-run double in the 7th inning to give the Yankees a 4-2 victory and their first series win against Boston this season.

The biggest story lines coming into the game was how would Burnett fare (or as most people figured, how badly he would fare) and the Major League debut of Jesus Montero. Burnett was going along swimmingly until he threw a high fastball to high fastball hitter Dustin Pedroia, who launched it into the center field seats to the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the 4th. But unlike most of his prior starts, Burnett didn't melt down. Instead he beared down and tossed a scoreless 5th inning before leaving with two men aboard and one out in the 6th. Boone Logan and Cory Wade stranded the base runners and the Yankees finally broke through against the Boston bullpen in the 7th.

Jon Lester had given the Yankees a number of opportunities to score, but they couldn't get the big hit off of him. What they did do though was work the count and forced Lester out of the game after five innings and 114 pitches. Andruw Jones worked his third walk of the night against former Yankee Al Aceves to start the rally. That brought up Montero, who had already stranded six base runners on the night. He didn't deliver a key hit, but got hit when an Aceves pitch clipped his jersey.

Terry Francona brought on fireballer Daniel Bard to face Martin, but as he has done often thi season, the Yankees catcher came through in the clutch, drilling a pitch up the alley in right-center. Jones scored easily to tie the game and Montero slid across home plate with the go ahead run well ahead of the relay throw home. Eric Chavez then gave the Yankees some insurance with a pinch-hit RBI single to right for a 4-2 Yankees lead.

But you know nothing is easy in a Yankees-Red Sox series and that was exemplified in all three games of the series. Mariano Rivera came in to close things out in the 9th and walked the lead off hitter Jed Lowrie. Rivera got his cutter in enough on the hands to Josh Reddick who couldn't get the "good wood" on it as Kenny Singleton likes to say, and flied to right. Rivera blew away Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a a pair of fastballs for the second out and things seemed to be easy going. But Mariano and company had to sweat this one out. He walked Jacoby Ellsbury to put the tying runs on basis and then gave up a single to his nemesis Marco Scutaro to load the bases. That brought up the AL's batting leader Adrian Gonzalez, who also entered the game with 103 RBI.

Rivera busted one cutter after another in on Gonzalez's hand and body- in fact Gonzalez fouled a pitch into himself that looked like it might have hit him had he taken it. The final pitch of the night was a result of all those inside pitches as Rivera fired a cutter at the outside corner that Gonzalez could only watch. Home plate ump Alfonso Marquez rung him up and the game was over some four hours after it began.


Mark Teixeira took a hard breaking pitch from Al Aceves off the back of his right knee and went down in tremendous pain. He's listed as day-to-day, but it would not be surprising to see him miss at least a couple of games. Michael Kay pointed out on the broadcast that the White Sox Paul Konerko had a similar injury and missed four games. In fact he returned in a series against the Yankees and was still having trouble running.

In addition to Montero, the Yankees brought up old friend Scott Proctor, left-hander Raul Valdes, righty Lance Pendleton, outfielder Chris Dickerson, and third baseman Brandon Laird, Infielder Ramiro Pena will likely join the team as well once he finished his minor league rehab assignment.

David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

The Yankees return home Friday night to begin a three game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Ivan Nova faces Brandon Morrow in the opener.

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