At least recently, whenever the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox gather for a romp in the park, one can expect long and tight games.
This past weekend at sold-out Fenway Park, the pair played three, with the Red Sox (60-40) taking two, and all were agonizing because they were contested at a snail’s pace, especially Sunday’s 11 inning affair that lasted four hours and 46 minutes, and didn’t get decided until one-time Angels catcher Mike Napoli crushed a ball to deep center field that gave the Red Sox an 8-7 win.
Napoli, who has provided much-needed power, also drilled a three-run shot in the third inning that staked Boston to a 4-3 cushion.
Meanwhile, the Yankees (52-46) have remained in the American League East hunt and are in fourth place seven games out despite not having first baseman Mark Teixeira, who has played only 15 games and is lost for the rest of the season, shortstop Derek Jeter (one), third baseman Alex Rodriguez (none), and center fielder Curtis Granderson (eight).
The latter three are expected back, and should add wallop to a punchless lineup that’s having trouble scoring runs and bashing homers.
New York grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Brett Gardner (three hits) scored on a throwing error by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Vernon Wells singled for a run batted in.
Robinson Cano’s run-scoring hit in the second inning made it 3-0, but Dustin Pedroia’s single produced a run for the Red Sox in the third inning, and Napoli’s three-run rocket gave Boston a one-run advantage.
It became a three-run margin in the fourth when Shane Victorino’s hit scored two runs, and an inning later Jonny Gomes lashed a homer to make it 7-3.
The Bronx Bombers rallied for two runs in the sixth as Gardner and Cano (three hits) each had run-scoring singles, and it became tied when Wells scored on a sacrifice bunt, while one-time Dodgers infielder Luis Cruz added an RBI.
New York’s lone triumph came in Saturday’s 5-2 decision, and was delivered by Hiroki Kuroda (9-6), a former Dodgers hurler who gave up five hits with two runs (earned), striking out four and walking one in seven innings.
The Yankees pushed around one-time Angels World Series hero John Lackey (7-7) for 10 hits and four runs (earned) across six and one-third innings.
New York was able to get to Lackey in the fifth on Gardner’s RBI single, while Cruz and Cano each had RBI hits in the seventh inning, as did Lyle Overbay (three hits).
Jacoby Ellsbury began matters for the Red Sox with a solo homer in the first inning off Andy Pettitte (7-7), who toiled six and one-third innings in Friday’s 4-2 setback, and it swelled to 3-0 with a two-run home run by Gomes an inning later. Boston’s final run was tallied in the seventh on Jose Iglesias’ RBI single.
The Yankees tacked on solo runs in the fourth and fifth inning when Gardner crossed home plate on Saltalamacchia’s throwing miscue, and Chris Stewart’s RBI hit.
These are the type of games the Yankees and Red Sox, two legendary teams, are used to playing, and whose fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.