John Lackey pitched eight strong innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks, Mike Napoli went 3-4 with an RBI ground rule double and Brock Holt chipped in with two walks and an insurance RBI single in the eighth inning as the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees 5-1.
After a horrific performance in the opener of the three game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday, the Red Sox needed to bounce back.
Their play at home so far this season has been uncharacteristically bad (5-7) and they needed to re-establish a good feeling at the Fens. That was supposed to be the theme of tonight’s game.
Then Michael Pineda showed up as the Yankees starter.
Controversy reigned at Yankee Stadium earlier this month when Pineda beat the Sox and was accused of using pine tar to help with his grip on the ball. But he was given a pass by the Sox and manager John Farrell and told in so many words by the Yankees (we thought) not to be so obvious with his pine tar use.
He didn’t listen and tonight at Fenway, the chickens finally came home to roost.
After a first inning in which Pineda was hit hard and the Sox took a quick 2-0 lead on a lead off triple by Grady Sizemore and RBI singles by Dustin Pedroia and A.J. Pierzynski, he was ejected in the second inning after Farrell asked home plate umpire Gerry Davis to check Pineda’s neck, which was coated with what looked like a brown substance.
Davis determined it was pine tar after touching Pineda’s neck and immediately ejected him from the game. The pine tar smear was so obvious that prior to Farrell coming out to talk to Davis, David Ortiz was laughing in the dugout while looking out at Pineda. Davis likely had no choice but to throw him out due to the blatant nature of the offense. The ejection will likely cost Pineda a fine and suspension down the road.
But that’s for the future.
As for the game tonight, the Red Sox played a much more inspired game and got a dominant performance from Lackey, who was shelled his previous two outings vs. the Yankees and Orioles. His control was pinpoint and he kept the Yanks batters off balance all night. But his performance was a bit overshadowed by the Pineda theatrics.
As for Farrell calling out Pineda, he fired the first shot in what is expected to be a back and forth of gamesmanship between he and Joe Girardi whenever these two teams meet the rest of the summer.
Expect Girardi to ask umpires to inspect Lester and Buchholz, two guys on the Sox that have been rumored to use foreign substances in the past, when they face the Yankees again.
The Rivalry just received an unexpected jolt of energy after dragging a bit over the last year or so.