Gentlemen, Please Start Your Engines. Yanks Hand Lester and Sox Third Series Loss, 7-3.


Can I get a clean inning? Can a brother get a solid? Can any Red Sox pitcher on the face of the earth not absolutely infuriate me by jumping out of the frying pan and straight into the fire in the first inning every single night? Right now, the answer is no.

Jon Lester ripped a page from the books of Josh Beckett, Franklin Morales and Felix Doubront – who had all been hammered in the first inning of the three previous games (5, 4 and 3 first inning runs respectively) – and went about digging his own hole in earnest in the first inning of the series finale against the Yankees Sunday night.

Lester gave up back-to-gave singles to Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson and a double to Mark Teixeira that scored Jeter to start the game. After Alex Rodriguez popped out, Lester walked Robinson Cano but got Nick Swisher to ground to third baseman Mauro Gomez for what should have been an inning ending double play. Gomez stepped on the bag to force out Teixeira at third and went for the double play at first. The problem was Gomez threw a lame three hopper to first base, the first hop of which started at the pitcher’s mound. The DP didn’t happen and Granderson scored New York’s second run of the inning before Lester struck out Andruw Jones to stop the bleeding.

Boston got their own threat going in the bottom half of the inning against Yankee starter Ivan Nova when Saturday’s Sox hero, Pedro Ciriaco, singled, stole second and after a walk to David Ortiz and an Adrian Gonzales whiff scored to make it 2-1 Yankees when Derek Jeter flat out dropped a sure thing pop out that should have ended the inning. With two outs and Ciriaco running, the ball hit the heel of Jeter’s glove and dropped to the ground as he squeezed and came up with air.

In the second inning Jayson Nix led off with a double against Lester. With Chris Stewart at the plate, Salty and Lester got crossed up. Salty was looking for a fastball and Lester threw a cutter, bouncing the ball off Salty’s shin guard to advance Nix to third base. Stewart sac flied to Daniel Nava. The throw to get the tagging Nix, although accurate, hit Nix in the back. Yankees 3, Red Sox 1.

Jeter’s error ushered in a strange night for both teams.

  • In the top of the third Nick Punto replaced Mauro Gomez at third while Gomez took over for Gonzo at first base. It was later reported that Gonzales came out of the lineup due to illness.
  • In the same inning Derek Jeter committed his second error of the night to put Ciriaco on first base. The official scorer called it a hit. It was an error, period. My report, my rules. No matter what it was, it led to a run when Ortiz scalded a double off the wall in centerfield, scoring the speedy Ciriaco who was running on the pitch to make it 3-2 Yankees.
  • In the fifth inning Ryan Sweeney, coming back from the DL and running down what would become a two-run triple by Alex Rodriguez, dove, missed the ball and mashed his neck into the centerfield triangle. He stayed in the game but it he didn’t look comfortable. Andruw Jones singled to score A-Rod to make it 5-2. Lester was justifiably yanked after 101 pitches and 4.1 innings of homely hurling. After being lifted Lester sat in the dugout continually shaking his head. I felt as though I was looking in the mirror.

In the seventh Andruw Jones slugged his fourth homer in three games against the Sox, a two-run shot off Scott Atchison into the Monster seats to put the Yankees up 7-2.

Boston pushed across one run in the eighth on a Nick Punto double that scored Salty to make it 7-3 but that’s as close as Boston would get. When Salty struck out the end the game with runners on second and third base it was clear that lousy starting pitching had once again sunk the Sox.

During the series, New York had piled up 28 runs in four games and taken three of four from a team that continues to reel from injuries and at this point, has both an identity and confidence crisis. Boston’s starting pitching staff had given up 14 of those 28 runs in the first inning. With the loss, Boston finished the first half exactly .500 (43-43), 9.5 games off the league leading Yankees pace and tied for last place with the Blue Jays.

Pass the Pepto. Bring on the the All-Star break. This team needs one.