In game 1 of the season’s first series, the Red Sox won by out-slugging the Yanks. In game 2, they lost on a throwing error. So far, the new emphasis on pitching and defense hasn’t quite produced the results the organization expected.
On Tuesday night, Boston opened the scoring when Kevin Youkilis drove home Jacoby Ellsbury in the first. Ellsbury scored again in the third on a 2-run bomb by Victor Martinez that cleared the centerfield fence. In between the Yankees managed a run on a Nick Swisher double.
Able to get to starter A.J. Burnett early, the Sox ultimately posted another decent offensive showing with 9 total hits. Martinez was a one-man wrecking crew, going 2 for 3 with a walk, home run, and 3 of Boston’s 4 RBI. But as in game 1, the hosts were unable to keep New York off the basepaths.
Following in Josh Beckett’s Opening Night footsteps, lefty Jon Lester was roughed up in his five-inning debut, alloweding 4 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks- not the type of command he’ll need if he wants to continue his A.L. dominance. His downfall came in the fifth, when he put the first three batters on to load the bases. A pair of singles by Granderson and Jeter started things off, and Nick Johnson was hit by a Lester pitch to set up the scoring. A fielder’s choice, an A-Rod double, and a sac fly put the Yanks on top 4-3. The Sox did tie the game at 4 in the bottom of the inning on back to back hits by Pedroia and Martinez, but the score wouldn’t hold.
In the eighth, on what proved to be the game’s pivotal play, Marco Scutaro threw wide of first following a routine ground ball by Jeter. Instead of being the inning’s third out, Jeter hustled to reach safely. That brought Johnson to the plate, and in true Nick Johnson fashion, the incredibly selective DH drew a walk to put the Yankees ahead 5-4.
A Cano homer added an insurance run, but by then the damage was done- on top late in the game, the Bombers were able to bring in Mariano Rivera. As usual, his presence slammed the door on Boston’s comeback hopes.
Some good things did happen for the Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury nabbed his first stolen base of the year and newcomer Adrian Beltre added one as well. This was a bit of foreshadowing; the 2010 Sox could end up incorporating speed as a major part of their gameplan. Youkilis continued his hot start. The middle relief was effective, with scoreless innings by both Manny Delcarmen and Daniel Bard.
But overall, the first two games of the year have given the team and Terry Francona plenty of room for improvement. The starting pitching hasn’t been good, and the bullpen stumbled last night as well. Of course, Scutaro shouldered much of the blame in the post-game press conference. When asked about his flub, he was direct and to the point:
“I just made a bad throw. That’s it. I don’t really have an excuse. It’s always hard when you make an error that costs you the game.”
The situation has to be doubly difficult for the shortstop given that he’s new in town and is still trying to make a good impression on the club and its fans. Luckily, he has another 160 games to do so. That includes Wednesday night’s rubber game that will pit Andy Pettitte against John Lackey.