When Bobby Valentine was introduced as Boston's new manager in December there was skepticism, but overall Red Sox (third world) Nation was happy. Especially when Valentine took shots at the Yankees. Then the season started and the Red Sox were swept in a three game series by the Detroit Tigers.
Entering Saturday's play, Boston was in the midst of a four game losing streak that included a 6-2 defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals on the day they celebrated Fenway Park's 100th anniversary. Valentine had to be stung, who wouldn't be, by the tremendous ovation former manager Terry Francona, who was at the helm of the Red Sox first title in 86 years in 2004 and another in 2007, received when introduced on Friday. But Saturday was to change all that.
The Red Sox pummeled Yankees starter Freddy Garcia (1.2 IP) and continued against the Yankees bullpen to build a 9-0 lead after five innings. This could be the game that could turn everything around in 2012. Tonight, most Red Sox fans are hoping the Mayans are right. The Yankees scored 15 runs combined in the 6th through 8th innings to come away with a 15-9 victory.
Things started out harmless enough- Sox starter Felix Doubront had scattered three hits over the first five innings before he surrendered a solo home run to Mark Teixeira with two out in the 6th inning.. His day ended when Curtis Granderson popped up pitch number 100 to end the inning. And then the fun began.
The Red Sox bullpen has been a mangled, tangled mess so far this season. Boston had acquired closer Andrew Bailey from Oakland during the off-season, but then lost him to thumb surgery. Another trade pick up, Mark Melancon, had saved 20 games for Houston last season, but was sent to the minors after he compiled a 63.00 ERA. The closer role fell to Al Aceves, whom the Red Sox would rather have as a 2-3 inning reliever. So when Dubront left the game, the Yankees had to be happy.
Vincente Padilla was the first victim in the 7th. He loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk before he surrendered an opposite field grand slam to Nick Swisher. 9-5, still not so horrible. Robinson Cano's double sent Padilla to the showers and Matt Albers stepped into the punching bag role. He didn't get any help either when shorststop Mike Aviles booted Alex Rodriguez's routine grounder. Teixeira then did something he hadn't done all of last year, belt an opposite field home run. 9-8, the Fenway faithful were in full panic.
Lefty Franklin Morales gave up a single to Curtis Granderson, but then retired the next two hitters to preserve the Boston lead. Rafael Soriano kept the score where it was after he gave up a lead off double in the bottom of the 7th and then it was the Yankees turn to bat and batter the Red Sox bullpen.
Eduardo Nunez led off the 8th with a single, which prompted Valentine to send for his closer, Aceves. The former Yankee walked Derek Jeter, before Swisher tattooed the left field wall for a go ahead 2-run double and his 5th and 6th RBI of the day. With no one out, Valentine inexplicably intentionally walked Cano, only to have Aceves unintentionally walk A-Rod.
With the bags loaded, Teixeira matched Swisher's RBI total with a rope to right that bounced into the seats for a ground rule double and two more runs. Justin Thomas would come in and give up a 2-run double to Russell Martin (both charged to Aceves) and Junichi Tazawa was touched for an RBI single by Jeter (charged to Thomas).
When the bloodbath was over, Boston relievers had allowed 14 runs, 12 hits, and five walks in three innings. It got so bad that Valentine was booed with all of the frustration felt in the park. All he could do was tip his cap and hope no one threw anything at him.
Not all the news was good from the Yankees. Michael Pineda suffered a setback in his throwing program (weakness in his shoulder) and will go for an MRI with contrast.