Runs figured to be harder to find than hen’s teeth Saturday afternoon when two of the American League’s ERA leaders hooked up in a pitching duel. New York sent Hiroki Kuroda to the hill with an 8-6 record but sparkling ERA of 2.85 to square off against Boston’s Bionic Man John Lackey, who entered the fray with a 7-6 mark on the season but impressive ERA of 2.78.
And that was certainly the case through five innings as Kuroda and Lackey took turns being stingy until the Yankees eventually scratched out a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth when Brent Gardner hit an RBI single to score Luis Cruz.
The Yankees then broke the game open in the 7th inning, scoring three runs on five hits to control the outcome and even the post All-Star Game series with Boston at 1 game apiece. The Red Sox clawed back for a pair of runs in the seventh inning when David Ortiz and Mike Carp scored after each singled and came home on Sac Flies by Johnny Gomes and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamachia to make it New York 5, Boston 2.
The story of the game was bad base running by both teams as much as solid pitching by both starters. Boston had two runners thrown out at the plate, the Yankees had a third, and Yankee’s catcher Chris Stewart turned in an unusual double play by fielding a foul pop up in the crowd behind home plate off the bat of Dustin Pedroia in the eighth inning, then wheeling and firing a strike to second base to nail Daniel Nava on the play trying to advance from first.
Leading 5-2 in the ninth, the Yankees turned the game over to Mariano Rivera and the All-Star Game MVP responded in typical fashion by getting David Ortiz to foul out, surrendering a single to Mike Carp before closing the door on the Red Sox by striking out Johnny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamachia to end the game. The save was Rivera’s 31st of the season, his 34th career save at Fenway, and the 639th save of his remarkable career.
Boston’s loss combined with Tampa Bay’s 4-3 win over Toronto Saturday afternoon narrowed the Red Sox A.L. East division lead to 1.5 games over the Rays.
Kuroda went 7 innings, giving up two runs on five hits to improve his record to 9-6. Lackey turned in a strong effort until running into trouble late, going 6 and one-third innings, yielding 4 earned runs on 10 hits while walking none and striking out seven. The loss dropped him to 7-7 on the season.
One bright spot of the day was the pitching debut of 24-year old lefty reliever Drake Britton for the Red Sox, who recorded two outs for Boston in the ninth inning by getting Ichiro Suzuki to pop out and Robinson Cano to fly out with two runners aboard for New York.
The Red Sox and Yankees complete the three game series at Fenway Sunday night on ESPN at 8 p.m. C.C. Sabathia (9-8) for New York and Ryan Dempster (5-8) for Boston, square off in a battle of pitchers looking to improve on first half results following the All-Star break. Jon Lester was scheduled to start Sunday night but has been pushed back to Tuesday. Brandon Workman may be tabbed as the Monday starter for Boston. The Red Sox sent infielder Brock Holt to Pawtucket Saturday to make room for Stephen Drew’s activation and insertion into the weekend lineup at shortstop, shifting Jose Iglesias back to third base. Shane Victorino, who again tweaked a hamstring Friday, was given the day off and is considered day-to-day for the Red Sox. Boston remains at Fenway and continues a grind of A.L. East opponents when Tampa Bay visits for a four-game set beginning Monday night.
- Jonnny “B” Gomes bats Bosox over Yankees 4-2 (baseballtrashtalkin.org)
- A.L. East race resembles “Fine Young Cannibals” (baseballtrashtalkin.org)