YANKEES 6, RED SOX 2
A hundred years ago Fenway Park opened its turnstiles for the first time and the seeds of a Red Sox rivalry with the New York Yankees were planted on that day and sown over the generations.
The modern day version played out upon the hallowed cathedral of Boston’s baseball heritage on Friday and the New York franchise that was the Highlanders in 1912 evolved quickly into the Bronx Bombers in the afternoon sun and pounded out five solo home runs to ruin the celebration for the Red Sox faithful.
Ivan Nova (3-0) gave up two runs on seven hits and struck out five over six innings to notch his 15th consecutive decision dating back to his rookie season. He is just one victory shy of the franchise record established by Roger Clemens.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were taking aim for the upper reaches of the Green Monster and Landsdowne Street against Clay Buchholz (1-1).
Eric Chavez, inserted in the lineup to play third base so Alex Rodriguez could DH, led the way with a pair solo home runs in the second and fourth innings. Nick Swisher began the home run barrage two batters before Chavez in the second with his own Monster Mash. Rodriguez led off the fifth with a blast onto Landsdowne Street and it was the 631st home run of his career, moving him past Ken Griffey Jr. into fifth place on the all-time home run list.
Russell Martin completed the barrage in the sixth with a high lined shot into the scaffolding above the Monster for his first home run of the season. Martin stepped to the plate hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
The Red Sox scored their first run on a disputed double by David Ortiz that was ruled a home run by the umpiring crew after a replay review in the second inning. They scored again the fifth after Cody Ross led off the inning with a double to center and one out later Nick Swisher lost Mike Aviles’ routine pop fly in the sun, which allowed Ross to score.
But the Yankees’ vaunted bullpen held the Red Sox scoreless over the final three innings. Future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera came on to record the final three outs in the ninth to seal the victory for the Yankees.
So while the Red Sox legends like Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Pedro Martinez and Dwight Evans came onto the field prior to the game to pay tribute to a city’s love for its ballpark and its team, it was the modern legends the likes of Derek Jeter, Rodriguez, Ortiz and Rivera who shone brightest on this day.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 8-6 and they are now a half-game behind Baltimore in the American League East. The Red Sox fell to 4-9 and they are four games out in last place in the division.
- With the starters struggling to keep the other team off the scoreboard early and not being able to pitch past the fifth inning, Nova’s effort on Friday was very much welcome. Nova had only one 1-2-3 inning (the fourth) and yet he was able to keep the Red Sox offense at bay for most of the afternoon. The fact that the 25-year-old right-hander is within two victories of passing Clemens proves that he is doing something right. He lowered his season ERA to 3.79.
- Manager Joe Girardi gets kudos for starting Chavez at third base and Chavez made the skipper look clairvoyant with his first two home runs of the season. Chavez has only two home runs all last season for the Yankees. In limited play this season, Chavez is hitting .400 and he is proving that the Yankees’ bench is pretty deep with talent.
- Rodriguez’s home run was by far the most dramatic of all the home runs and it made a statement as it flew well over the Monster in left. It was his second home run of the season and it gave the Yankees a 5-2 lead. Buchholz gave up nine hits in six-plus innings five were solo home runs and two others were doubles. He was not exactly fooling the Yankees.
- Jeter singled off the glove of Kevin Youkilis in the second inning to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Jeter was 1-for-5 and scored a run and he is hitting .359 on the season. With the hit he moved into 18th place and past Dave Winfield on the all-time hit list with 3,111.
- Cody Eppley, who was brought up from Triple-A when Brett Gardner was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday, did not fare well in his debut with the Yankees. The 6-foot-5 sidewinding right-hander entered the game in the ninth with a four-run lead and he gave up a leadoff single to right by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Girardi went immediately to the mound and brought in Rivera to close out the game.
- Mark Teixeira was the only Yankee starter who did not get a hit in the game. He was 0-for-4 including three weak infield grounders. Teixeira’s season average dropped to .264, which is pretty good considering Teixeira is a career .190 hitter in April.
- Swisher had to be a bit embarrassed by losing Aviles’ fly ball in the fifth, which allowed a run to score. Swisher tried using his left hand to shade his eyes from the sun but he ended up covering up and baling out as the ball dropped in front of him and rolled into deep right. It was a tough sun field on Friday but Swisher still should have had it.
Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte tossed five innings on Friday in an extended spring training game against Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguers at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa, FL. Pettitte gave up two runs on four hits but, more importantly, he threw 58 of his 66 pitches for strikes and struck out five batters. In his next game action, Pettitte likely will move up in class and start a game for Double-A Trenton. The 39-year-old veteran is targeting a return to the Yankees in early May. . . . Both teams on Friday wore throwback uniforms that were worn by Red Sox and Highlanders in 1912. The jerseys did not have names or numbers on the back, which made it hard for fans, broadcasters and writers to figure out who was coming to the plate to pinch-hit or who was coming to in to pitch. I would guess it was pointless to buy a game program in 1912, if they were even available then.
One of the loudest and warmest greetings from most of the 36,770 fans in attendance during the pregame ceremonies was bestowed upon former manager Terry Francona, who initially declined the invitation to come but later relented. Francona received a raucous standing ovation and it rivaled the ovation for Yastrzemski. In the seventh inning of the game, current Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine went to the mound to remove Buchholz and he drew a chorus of boos. Valentine is still reeling from comments he made to reporters on the record about a seeming lack of commitment from Youkilis. The firestorm ended with the players backing Youkilis and Valentine was forced to apologize for the comments publicly. But it is obvious that Francona’s departure after last season’s September swoon, Valentine’s uncalled for candor and the poor start of the team has combined to provide a very poisonous atmosphere at Fenway Park on her 100th birthday. The situation will be increasingly worse for Valentine if the Red Sox fail to win a game this weekend against the Yankees. For his part on Friday, Valentine appeared reticent and chastened when he spoke to the media. It would appear he has learned a valuable lesson about being too candid and failing to address concerns with his players privately. But the question still becomes how will Valentine survive it all if this team continues to languish at the bottom of the division and fails to make the playoffs? The fans in Boston are not a patient bunch and Valentine really stepped into it badly by knocking an immensely popular player.
The rivalry series continues on Saturday.
The Yankees will send right-hander Freddy Garcia (0-1, 6.97) to the mound. Garcia was tagged for five runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings in a loss against the Twins on Monday. With Pettitte on the way back to the major leagues, the pressure on Garcia to pitch well increases. He is 9-4 with a 4.45 ERA over the last 10 seasons against the Bosox.
Boston will counter with left-hander Felix Doubront (0-0, 5.40 ERA). Dubront has not made it out of the fifth inning this season although he has 13 strikeouts in 10 innings of work. He is 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 4:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by FOX Sports.
YANKEES 5, ORIOLES 4 (12 INNINGS)
One month ago, Raul Ibanez was hitting .051 in spring training but his manager, his teammates and he never doubted that he could still contribute for the Yankees. With two out in the 12th inning on Tuesday, Ibanez stroked an RBI double that provided a hard-earned victory for his new team.
On a night when the Yankees were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position as he stepped to the plate, the 39-year-old designated hitter drove in Robinson Cano with what proved to be the game-winning run as New York defeated Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Former Orioles left-hander Clay Rapada (1-0) pitched a perfect two-thirds of an inning of relief in the top of the 12th to get credit for the victory. Orioles right-hander Pedro Strop (0-1) took the loss. Mariano Rivera came on to pitch a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to earn his first save of the season and the 604th of his career.
The game was knotted at 4-4 since the top of the sixth inning when the Yankees rallied for three runs off Orioles left-handed starter Wei-Yin Chen, a native of Taiwan who was making his major-league debut. Aided by a two-out error by Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds on a hard-hit grounder by Russell Martin, Brett Gardner followed with an RBI single to right to score the tying run.
A combination of hitting futility (the Orioles were 0-for-8 with RISP) and some excellent pitching, particularly by Yankees rookie right-hander David Phelps, kept the game going until the decisive 12th inning.
Cano led off the frame with a hard-hit smash off the glove of Reynolds that rolled into shallow left for a double. Alex Rodriguez advanced Cano to third by directing a slow grounder to second baseman Robert Andino. Mark Teixeira followed with a Baltimore chop grounder to Andino in which Cano would have been thrown out. However, Cano retreated to third as Teixeira was thrown out at first.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter, perhaps remembering Ibanez’s spring problems, then ordered Strop to walk Curtis Granderson intentionally. Ibanez subsequently laced a 1-2 pitch from Strop over the head of Orioles center-fielder Adam Jones. The ball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double and Cano trotted in with the eventual winning run.
With the victory, the Yankees improved to 2-3. The Orioles fell to 3-2.
- Ibanez is proving to be an effective bat against right-handers this season. His game-winning RBI was his sixth RBI of the season and he leads the team in that category. Ibanez entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and he was 2-for-3 and he even stole a base after he singled in the eighth.
- The Yankees’ relief pitching was spectacular and a new bullpen star is born in Phelps. The 25-year-old right-hander entered the game with two out in the fifth inning and he pitched a perfect 2 1/3 innings, striking out four batters looking. The Yankees’ relievers (Phelps, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, David Robertson, Rapada and Rivera) combined to shut out the Orioles on just two hits and two walks and fanned 12 batters in 7 1/3 innings. By the looks of Phelps this bullpen is even stronger than it was in 2011, when it was the best in baseball.
- Rodriguez was 0-for-5 in the game and is now hitting .158 on the young season. But I have to give him major props for giving himself up in the 12th inning to advance Cano to third base. So many times this Yankee team seems so loaded with stars, it looks like it is beneath them to play “small ball” or do fundamental things like this. But give A-Rod credit. He did something that helped the team win.
- Derek Jeter was 2-for-5 in the game, including a leadoff home run in the first inning. In his two games at Camden Yards, Jeter is 6-for-10 with a home run, a double and four singles, two runs scored and two RBIs. Jeter has more RBIs against the Orioles than any active player.
- The usually reliable Freddy Garcia was anything but on Tuesday. The Orioles actually scored only one run via an RBI – a solo home run in the first inning by J.J. Hardy off Garcia. Another scored on a dropped throw, which was scored an error, by Martin. The other two runs scored on wild pitches by Garcia. In fact, Garcia uncorked a career-high five wild pitches in his 4 2/3 innings of work. He threw only four wild pitches all of last season. Garcia surrendered four runs (three earned on four hits, three walks and he hit one batter. Garcia said after the game the cold weather conditions left him unable to grip his split-finger pitch properly.
- I have to give a “What Was He Thinking” Bronx cheer to third-base coach Rob Thomson for a decision he made in the seventh inning. On a cold night, Nick Swisher was struck in the left toe on a pitch from Matt Lindstrom and he limped all the way to first base. When Cano followed with a double into the left-field corner, Thomson waved Swisher home from third and he was thrown out at the plate on a relay from left-fielder Endy Chavez to Hardy to Matt Wieters. That decision likely lengthened the game to the 12 innings the teams eventually played.
- Rodriguez, Teixeira and Granderson combined to go 1-for-15 in the game. All three are hitting below .200 on the season. Teixeira and Granderson are both hitting .150. But ice cold starts in April and Teixeira are no strangers, as Yankee fans are already aware.
If you perhaps were wondering why manager Joe Girardi did not use Rafael Soriano in the game, it was because of a split fingernail on his pitching hand. Soriano tore the nail on the middle finger of his right hand as he was warming up in the bullpen in the seventh inning. Girardi said he is unsure if Soriano would be available to pitch on Wednesday. . . . Tuesday actually marked the 99th birthday of the Yankees. On April 10, 1913 the New York Highlanders became the New York Yankees.
The Yankees will have a chance to sweep the Orioles in their own park on Wednesday night.
CC Sabathia (0-0, 7.50 ERA) hopes for some better luck than his 2012 debut against the Rays where he gave up five runs on hits and three walks in six innings. After a start like that the Orioles are the perfect team for Sabathia to face. He is 16-2 with a 2.74 ERA against them in his career.
Right-hander Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will pitch for the O’s after shutting out the Twins for seven innings in Baltimore’s opener. He is 2-1 with a 3.99 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.