We all know the back story. The Yankees were 0-8 against Boston this year, losing games in every way imaginable. However both teams have changed since they last played, yadda yadda yadda. Frankly, I had enough of it. I was ready for the two clubs to play again and for all the stories to go away.
The game started with Joba Chamberlain dancing around danger in the first two innings, stranding runners at first and second after allowing a double and a walk in each frame. It had all the makings of a rocky road outing for Joba, something we weren’t used to seeing after his prevous three outings.
The offense, rolling after a pair of big wins in Toronto, went to work on John Smoltz in the second, when a Jorge Posada single and a Robbie Cano walk put a pair of runners on with one out. The molten hot Nick Swisher (.333-.419-.778 on the road trip) lined a single to right and appeared to kick off the scoring, but Jorge Posada opted not to slide and was thrown out at the plate in awkward fashion. I’ve watched the replay a bunch of times and I’m still not sure what happened. It looked like he never picked up the relay thrown from the cutoff man and assumed he was home free. It was just another frustrating moment in a season series full of them for the Yanks.
As fate would have it, Dustin Pedroia took a 2-0 fastball and dinked it into right for a cheapie homerun for the first opposite field homer of his career to lead off the next inning. Chamberlain’s struggles continued when he walked the next two batters, but a David Ortiz double play and a JD Drew pop out allowed him to escape the inning without any further damage. Johnny Damon answered right back with a solo cheapie of his own in the next half inning, but the tie score was short lived.
Mike Lowell started off the next inning by beating out a well placed infield single – Jeter made it close – and new Red Sock Casey Kotchman gave Boston the lead with yet another cheapie jack. It was a agonizing night for Yankee fans to this point; lots of walks, lots of cheap homers, and Jorge’s blown scoring opportunity. That, however, all changed next inning.
Posada started to make amends for his brainfart by starting the fourth off with a double down right field line. Cano singled him in – no slide required – and Swisher walked to put two on for Melky Clutchbrera. Hitless since tripling to complete the cycle on Sunday, the Melkman took John Smoltz’s high heat into the second deck for a quick 5-3 lead. It was just the beginning of the end for Smoltz, who loaded the bases again before handing the ball off to ex-Yank Billy Traber. All three inerited runners scored and then some, and the Yanks led their rivals 9-3 after an eight run fourth inning. Posada’s redemption was complete when he capped the inning off with a three run jimmy jack.
Since Yanks-Sox games can never be easy, Joba walked three straight batters to start the next inning before wiggling out of trouble and allowing just one run. On eight days rest, Joba had his ugliest start of the second half, walking seven (seven!) hitters in five innings of four run ball. He walked away with a most undeserved win, but hey, I’ll take it.
David Robertson pulled off the rare feat of striking out three in two-thirds of an inning of work, while Phil Coke and Mark Melancon held the Sox down until the 9th, when Anthony Claggett struggled before closing the game out. Yankee pitchers walked 12 freakin’ Sox hitters in the game, yet somehow won. That won’t happen often. In fact, it’s the first time the Bombers have walked that many batters in a nine inning game and won since 1957. Again, it’s never easy against the Sox.
The final score was 13-6, but all that matters is the Yanks came out on top. It was an offensive orgy as Michael Kay so colorfully called it, one of those games were the final four innings were a mere formality. Now 3.5 games up in the division, the Yanks are guaranteed to finish the series in first place, a nice little security blanket. This was only game one of a four game set, so make sure your seat belt is buckled. This was only the start.