The Yankees were the April Yankees, at least for one night. After a couple of encouraging victories over the Rays, the Yanks went into Boston riding high. The Red Sox seemed prepared, though, and laid into the Yankees, putting up runs early and riding superb pitching to a 7-0 victory. It was the first time this season that the Yankees had been shut out. Worse, it was their sixth straight loss to the Red Sox this season.
The game started off in identical fashion, with both Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett retiring the first two batters, walking the third, and finishing off the fourth. From there, though, their games could haven’t been more different. Beckett was dominant, allowing just one hit through six innings. The Yanks did run up his pitch count, but they couldn’t get anything going. Even in the eighth, when they had two on and one out, Johnny Damon grounded into a rare double play. So not only were the Sox doing well, but the Yanks weren’t catching a single break.
Unfortunately, the game got out of hand pretty quickly. After a scoreless first, Burnett fell apart. It was clear early on that Burnett was going to have control problems, but we’ve seen him overcome that in the past — most notably in his last start, when he overcame some control problems to pitch seven strong innings. Tonight, though, it was beyond repair.
Control was the big story, obviously. A.J. did something I haven’t seen a pitcher do…ever, as far as I can remember. Of his 84 pitches, just 40 were strikes, meaning 44 were out of the zone. That’s just something that shouldn’t happen. However, it’s not the strangest part of his performance. Of the 84 pitches he threw, 68 were fastballs, and of the 16 curve balls just five were strikes. “I didn’t have a curveball,” A.J. said after the game, which explains the pitch selection. He also said that he didn’t know how to adjust, which is understandable. When you’re a two-pitch guy and one of them isn’t working, it’s tough to figure out what to do.
(When asked about how it felt to be so bad when the other guy on the mound was doing so well, Burnett scoffed. “I got nothin’ to do with Josh Beckett,” he replied. I quite like that.)
As was mentioned on the the Twitter feed, A.J. actually picked a good game to have no stuff. The offense couldn’t get anything going, so A.J. could have pitched his damnedest and still fallen short. Might as well take your lumps when the offense doesn’t show up, too. That is, if we’re to believe that he’ll even this out at some point. Given his second-half splits from last year, that’s certainly within the realm of possibility. It doesn’t excuse a thing, and A.J. said as much. But if he’s going to suck, it might as well be on a night the offense couldn’t manage a thing.
Johnny Damon put the offense into the best perspective: “We didn’t hit many balls hard, and when we did we hit them right at guys.” That pretty much sums it up. Cano hit a couple of balls real hard and got just one infield hit out of it. Damon hit a few hard, but saw no positive results. It happens, especially when you’re facing Josh Beckett at his best.
Emotionally, the worst part of the game was David Ortiz’s two-run shot in the second. The guy has been struggling mightily, so a homer against the Yanks, especially to drive in the first runs of the game, hurts, and it hurts bad. There’s no use harping on it. Those two runs are the same as any other two runs, but that doesn’t ease the pain. The only solace in this is if the Boston/national media goes nuts over this, and Ortiz goes 0 for the rest of the series. Only consolation.
After the game, the Yanks seemed as upbeat as possible considering the circumstances. Everyone talked about forgetting it and moving on to tonights’ game. It’s tough to argue with that. If the players can put the game behind them, the fans should, too. There was nothing pleasant about the game, but they do play another one tonight. And then again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day…