While the Boston Red Sox managed to take the Texas series at home, after a clutch 3 run home run in the bottom of the 8th on Wednesday, the Red Sox seemed to take a couple steps back yesterday. Despite a solid start from Clay Buchholz, and because of poor hitting with runners in scoring position, the Red Sox lost 4-1 to begin this season’s slate with the Yankees. Falling to 4-6 on the young season, the Red Sox needed a lift in the second game of this 4 game set in the Bronx.
Despite his 2.51 ERA coming into this game, Jon Lester sported 0-2 as his record. The Red Sox had not led at all for the Lester in his first two starts. After two innings (the 4th and 5th) in which the Sox had a runner in scoring position with less than two outs, frustration was mounting. They could not get either David Ross or Xander Bogaerts across with the tying run. To that point, Jon Lester had allowed only an Alfonso Soriano home run just inside the left field foul pole (hopefully, if Mitch Williams was watching it didn’t give him too many flashbacks of the similar one Williams gave up on a very inside pitch to Joe Carter to end the 1993 World Series) in the second inning to stake CC Sabathia to a 1-0 lead.
Though Sabathia was looking strong through the first 5 innings, he had thrown 24 pitches to extricate himself from the 5th inning. This may have led to his leaving a fastball over the middle of the plate that Jonny Gomes did not miss, pounding his first home run of the season into the left field bleachers to tie the game at 1. A bit of luck sparked a further rally as David Ortiz tried to check his swing on a high and tight pitch but dribbled an infield hit toward where a third baseman would normally be if he wasn’t shifted over. Sabathia went to 3-0 on Mike Napoli before he singled up the middle. He was now at 20 pitches or more for his second straight inning. Grady Sizemore came to the plate against his former longtime teammate Sabathia. When CC hung a curveball over the middle of the plate, Sizemore made him wish he hadn’t, hammering the pitch well into the right field stands for a 3-run home run and 4-1 lead.
Lester cruised through the 6th but let his temper get the best of him a bit in the 7th. With two outs and his pitch count rising over the 100 pitch mark, he hung a strike to Ichiro Suzuki who dunked it into left field to keep the inning going. Brian Roberts strode to the plate for what seemed like a certain third out as he is batting .148. On a 1-2 pitch Lester fired a pitch that appeared to be right over the outside corner for strike 3 but home plate umpire James Hoye, who had been calling that pitch a strike all night, did not punch Roberts out which visibly angered Lester. He subsequently lost Roberts on a 3-2 pitch and barked loudly at Hoye before allowing an RBI single to Kelly Johnson on another 3-2 pitch. At 113 pitches, Lester departed in favor of Junichi Tazawa. 2014 Derek Jeter is not as fearsome as in previous years and Jeter flied out harmlessly to right field to end the inning.
Tazawa managed to get around an 8th inning single to Soriano, to strike out lefty pinch hitter Brian McCann, despite three lefthanders in the bullpen. With star closer Koji Uehara experiencing some shoulder stiffness, manager John Farrell decided to see what he had in backup closer Edward Mujica who had 37 saves for the St. Louis Cardinals last year, and brought him in to face the bottom of the Yankees order. Despite Mujica’s earlier struggles, he retired the Yankees easily, 1-2-3 in the 9th to calm an anxious Red Sox Nation.
After some early game frustration, the Red Sox overcame the Yankees 4-2, notching the first win of the season for Jon Lester and tying the series at a game apiece.
Game 3 of the series tomorrow at 1:05 features Boston’s John Lackey (2-0, 1.38) against New York’s Hiroki Kuroda (1-1, 2.92).