Tuesday’s game was eerily similar to the series opener in the Bronx. Like Matsuzaka the night before, Red Sox starter Josh Beckett struggled, departing in the fifth down 5-0. Boston’s questionable defense once again put the game in jeopardy. And once again the Sox came back from a large deficit, only to see the Yankees strike back in the bottom of the ninth.
But on Tuesday, that final frame was not as kind to the host team, and though he wasn’t perfect, Jonathan Papelbon hung on and recorded his tenth save, atoning for the runs he surrendered the night before.
The teams swapped scoreless first innings, then in the bottom of the second Beckett ran into his first jam. Alex Rodriguez singled and advanced to second on what should have been and out by Robinson Cano. Instead, Marco Scutaro booted the ball, allowing both runners to reach safely. Francisco Cervelli put both into scoring position with a groundout to third, and Marcus Thames drew a walk to load the bases.
DH Juan Miranda singled home A-Rod, and Cano scored on a groundout by Randy Winn– what should have been the innings final out. The Scutaro error helped the Yanks make it 2-0 after 2, and they added a Miranda solo shot in the fourth to extend that lead.
In the fifth, Beckett was in trouble again. Brett Gardner crushed a double to right and Mark Teixeira walked between the frame’s first 2 outs. Beckett was unable to avoid damage, surrendering a long double to Cano that scored both runners and put New York up 5-0.
Then the game took an unexpected twist.
Boston pitching coach John Ferrell walked to the mound to conference with Beckett, and in short order had signaled to the bullpen for relief. Judging from the way Terry Francona jogged out onto the field, the move was a surprise to both teams, and Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi was incensed. Though there had been no obvious signs that Beckett was ailing, Sox staff made the switch due to what was called a tight back. The injury substitution gave reliever Manny Delcarmen an unlimited number of warm-up pitches, something that the Yankees found unfair.
Girardi protested the move, citing that fact that Beckett was not outwardly hurt. By pulling him as they did, the Sox were able to get a reliever into the game at a critical moment, and the Yankees felt that to be an unfair advantage. The game was subsequently played under protest.
It’s worth noting that Beckett did skip his last start due to back spasms, but Ferrell giving him the sudden hook was certainly an odd maneuver. The umpires allowed the move and play went on, but it was clear why Girardi and the Yanks took exception to the decision.
Delcarmen got Boston out of the inning with no further damage, and Beckett’s line closed at 4.2 innings, 5 runs (3 earned) on 5 hits and 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts.
In the top of the sixth, Kevin Youkilis homered for the Red Sox first run, making it 5-1 New York. It was the only trouble C.C. Sabathia had on the night; the big lefty went 7 strong innings allowing only the 1 run on 4 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 5. Fortunately for Boston, he couldn’t pitch a complete game.
Joba Chamberlain took over in the eighth, and the Sox took advantage of the switch. An errant throw by A-Rod allowed Scutaro to reach safely on what would have been a groundout. Dustin Pedroia singled and J.D. Drew doubled to make the score 5-2, and Youkilis plated both runners with a single to right.
After Victor Martinez grounded out, David Ortiz hit a shot to the gap that scored Youk, but the slow-footed Papi was gunned down at second trying to stretch his hit into a double. Adrian Beltre grounded out to end the inning, but not before Boston was able to tie things up 5-5.
Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima, and Daniel Bard had followed Delcarmen, combining to hold New York scoreless through the eighth. In the top of the ninth, New York put Mariano Rivera on the hill to try and preserve the tie. Surprisingly, the normally reliable closer faltered.
After a Mike Lowell groundout, Darnell McDonald singled to left. Scutaro then hit a fly ball to left fielder Marcus Thames, who was unable to handle the winds in Yankee Stadium. His drop kept all runners safe, and Pedroia grounded out to the right side to put the pair in scoring position.
Despite the error, Rivera was in a position to close out the inning. But with 2 on and 2 out, Jeremy Hermida crushed a double to deep left and put the Sox up 7-5.
On Monday, the closer imploded, allowing a career worst 4 runs in the Yanks’ comeback win. Tuesday’ ninth didn’t start off so well either. Marco Scutaro booted an A-Rod grounder for his second error of the game, and Rodriguez advanced to second on defensive indifference. Perhaps Boston should have held him at first; he scored on a Cano double to trim Boston’s lead.
It appeared that Tuesday was to be a re-run of Monday night’s fiasco: getting down early, coming all the way back, then blowing it in the final inning. But on this night Paps was able to refocus and get his 3 outs. The Sox took the victory, 7-6.
Drew, Youkilis, and Ortiz each collected a pair of hits on the night. Youk and Jeremy Hermida combined for 5 RBI. Hermida was a late-game sub, coming in for J.D. Drew after Drew felt tightness in his hamstring. He’ll likely be considered day-to-day. Papi’s pair of hits pushed his May average to .392, and he now has 6 homers and 16 RBI this month. On the other end of the spectrum, Scutaro’s 2 errors gave him 6 on the year.
The win earned Boston a split in the 2 game series, and the Sox now return to Fenway for a pair with Minnesota. Wednesday will pit Scott Baker against Clay Buchholz while Thursday will feature Fracisco Liriano taking on Jon Lester.