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Posts Tagged ‘Yankee Stadium’

This is fun.  I like this.  I like how playing in Yankee Stadium is no big deal anymore.  Actually, with the way we’ve been performing there recently, it feels kind of like Fenway.  I mean, except for the fact that Fenway is so much better in every conceivable way, of course.  I just mean we’re ruling it as if it were Fenway.  We have now swept the Evil Empire on their home turf in less than a month’s time.  In this series, we scored twenty-five runs to their ten.  Yankee fans must be in a world of hurt right now.  Cool.

Beckett totally dominated.  Seven full innings, two runs on four hits, two walks, six strikeouts.  104 pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  Lethal cutter.  Lethal two-seam.  Excellent curveball.  The rest of his pitches on the whole weren’t at the level of those three, but they were still effective.  Beckett didn’t record his first strikeout until the third inning, when he rang up Mark Teixeira with a curveball.  He would record a second strikeout with his curveball later on.  Two other strikeouts were ultimately achieved using the changeup, and one each with the four-seam and the cutter.  The two runs he allowed came in the first; he drilled Derek Jeter, and then Curtis Granderson went yard.  But Beckett went on lockdown after that, and that was it.  It was his fifth win of the season, three of which have come opposite CC Sabathia.

May I say that I derived an immense amount of pleasure from observing the complete and total meltdown of the Sabathia’s entire baseball universe in the seventh inning.  Right through the seventh, the game was every bit a pitcher’s duel that the Yankees were in the process of winning by two runs, and we had yet to score.  Our best opportunity came in the second with two men on base.  The seventh inning erased all those zeroes that came before it.  In the seventh inning alone, we scored seven runs.

Papi singled to lead it off and scored on a triple by Lowrie.  Crawford grounded out for the first out of the frame.  Then Cameron promptly doubled to bring Lowrie home.  Tek singled, and Ellsbury singled to bring in Cameron.  Scutaro lined out for the second out of the frame.  Then Gonzalez singled and brought Tek home.  Then Sabathia left, and David Robertson came in.  Ellsbury scored on a single by Youk, and Gonzalez and Youk scored on a double by Papi.  Eight of our twelve total hits were made in that inning alone.

Scutaro doubled and scored on a double by Gonzalez in the top of the ninth; the Yanks got that run back in the bottom of the inning.  But we won, 8-3.  No home runs.  Nothing too flashy.  Just hit after hit after hit in an incredibly huge inning.  That one bad inning is pretty bitter medicine, isn’t it.

We are the first team this year to beat the Yanks in six consecutive games, something we haven’t done on the road since 1912.  And we did it even with a rain delay of three hours and twenty-seven minutes.  In other words, by the time the game could have been over already, which is a fair statement to make considering the fact that the game itself lasted three hours and eleven minutes, we were just getting started.  But it was worth the wait.  I’ll be taking a break for about two weeks; we’re two games in first, and I expect that, within that time, our first-place lead will widen considerably.  If we keep playing like we played during this series, that’s as good as guaranteed.

In other news, from a Bruins perspective, no other time to take a break could possibly be worse.

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Last night wasn’t Wake’s finest hour.  Collectively, though, it was a pretty fine hour for the team as a whole.  Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the one and only possessor of first place in the AL East division.  We beat the Yankees again, so the worst we can do now is win the series.  The best we can do, of course, is sweep.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Last night had plenty to recap.

As I said, Wake wasn’t feeling it.  He gave up five runs on five hits while walking three and striking out three.  He threw ninety-one pitches, fifty-six for strikes.  He made his exit in the sixth, leaving behind one out and two on.  Aceves came on and loaded the bases.  Then he allowed an inherited runner to score.  At that point we had a three-run lead that was looking pretty shaky.  It took him six pitches, but Aceves finally got Derek Jeter to ground into a double play to end the inning.  Crisis averted.  He later gave up a run of his own in the bottom of the ninth.  Wake picked up the win, and Aceves picked up a three-and-two-thirds-inning save.  The final score was 11-6.  We are seven and one against the Yanks this year, we’ve won all of our last six contests against them, and we’ve won five of those six on enemy soil.  Not bad for a team that started out in last place.  And those two, Wake and Aceves, are model team players, given the way they’ve pitched in when Lackey and Dice-K were on the DL.  So the whole game was just a great one to watch.

The game started out innocently enough.  Ellsbury singled and scored when Gonzalez grounded out.  Youk walked after that.  And that’s right around the time when you start thinking about how totally awesome it would be if Papi hit a home run.  So that’s what he did.  He launched a two-run shot into right center field.  Papi had been fed a steady diet of pitches away to that point.  But then he got a great one right down the middle.  Why pitchers think they can throw fastballs down the middle right by us is beyond me.  He didn’t flip his bat this time, but trust me, he was thinking it, and he was thinking it loudly.

The game only got better from there.

Scutaro singled to open the second inning, stole second base, moved to third on a throwing error, and scored on a sac fly by Drew.  After AJ Burnett loaded the bases with an intentional walk in the fourth, Tek hit into the force out as planned, but a run still scored.  Ellsbury doubled in another after that, and Pedroia singled in another.  His hit just barely cleared Jeter’s glove.

Wake gave up a homer to A-Rod in the fourth, and they added three more runs in the fifth.  We got one of them back in the sixth; three walks were issued in the bottom of the sixth alone, and one of them scored a run.  Seriously, there are few things more humiliating than a pitcher walking in a run.

The Yankees added another run in the sixth.  And then nobody scored anymore until the ninth.  Going into the inning, the Yankees were down by only three, and that just didn’t seem like enough to hold them.  I think Crawford and Drew heard it too because they both hit home runs in that frame.  Crawford went first with a solo blast on a changeup down and in.  Scutaro doubled after that, so it was even better when who but JD Drew smashed a towering plast into the bullpen.  It was a good thing, too; Aceves would allow his run in the bottom of the inning, which would trim our lead.  But only by one.

We still won by five.  We’re still on the verge of increasing our first-place lead to two games.  And we scored eleven runs against the Yankees.  Life is most excellent.

In other news, the Stanley Cup finals is now even at two apiece.  The Bruins shutout the Canucks last night, four-zip.  Tim Thomas made thirty-eight saves en route.

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Watching Lester work recently has really been painful.  It gets better every time he goes out there, but you can just tell that he’s laboring with every pitch.  There are no health reports that would suggest that there’s anything physically wrong with him.  For whatever reason, things aren’t coming easily.  There are times when watching his cut fastball whiz by a hitter staring in disbelief as it slices the air in front of him is a thing of beauty.  But these days are not one of those times.  These days, Lester is lucky if he gets through five innings with minimal damage.  These days are daily grinds.  Stretches like this occur in the career of every pitcher, but watching an ace go through it is just sad.

In light of that, we were going to take whatever we could get from Lester.  Fortunately, he managed to deliver just enough to get us through.  Which of course was made all the more satisfying by the fact that we were playing the Evil Empire.  (In case you haven’t noticed, most positives of the game are more satisfying when playing the Evil Empire.)

Lester fired off 112 pitches over six innings; one positive that may result from this stretch is increased stamina and durability since he’s throwing a ton of pitches every time he goes out there.  He allowed three runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out five with the help of sixty-six strikes overall.  He didn’t give up any home runs; he just generally doesn’t have as much life on his cut fastball as he does when he’s more effective.  And that means that he misses spots and provides opportunities for constructive contact.  It’s not like he made one big mistake that allowed a hitter to go yard; he just made several small mistakes that resulted in quite a bit of hits.  That and he was inefficient.  He threw thirty-three pitches in the first inning alone and hit two batters but gave up only one run.  His best inning, hands-down, was obviously the third, when he secured all three outs using only six pitches, four for strikes.  That was thanks in part to Drew’s phenomenal leaping catch to end the inning.  Now that’s efficiency.  I guess those two innings balance out.  But the bottom line is that, while this outing obviously could have been much, much worse, it sure wasn’t his best.  You could say that the mark of a true ace is to go through stretches like this and still get wins.  And that’s what Lester did last night.  The final score was 6-4.  He’s won his last five starts against New York, our only pitcher to do that since Reggie Cleveland did it in the 1970s.  He’s won his last four starts against New York in New York, our only pitcher to do that since Roger Clemens did it in the 1980s.

It was a fun game.  Obviously beating the Yankees is always fun, but it was also just good baseball.  Ellsbury led off the series with a solo shot on a hanging breaking ball that would’ve been a ball had he left it alone.  Instead, it ended up in the seats in right field, and Ellsbury ended up crossing the plate.  It was his fourth leadoff homer and first since 2008.  I would say that’s the ideal way to start a series.

The fun continued with a five-pitch walk to Pedroia, followed by a triple by Gonzalez to bring him in and a sac fly by Youk to bring Gonzalez in.  Salty walked to lead off the second and scored on a double by Pedroia.  Nobody scored again until the fifth, which Gonzalez led off with an intentional walk.  Goodbye, Freddy Garcia.  Then Papi said hello to Luis Ayala by unleashing on a fastball and planted it in right field as well.  He just uncorked a massive swing on it like it was no big deal.  He just brought that bat all the way around and tossed it away like it was a toothpick.  There was no doubt the minute that ball left the bat that it was going out.  Joe Girardi took issue with Papi’s post-swing bat flip, but he’s a slugger, and that’s just what sluggers do.

The Yanks got two back in the fifth.  Jenks reinjured himself in the seventh; he did something to his back on his fourth pitch of the night and is day-to-day.  Albers came in for the rest of the seventh, and Bard came in for the eighth.  Paps allowed a run in the ninth, at which point I started to feel really uneasy about the fact that Ellsbury ended the top of the ninth by trying to stretch a double into a triple, but he held on for his two hundredth save.  And it’s only taken him 359 appearances to get there.  He has reached that milestone faster than anyone history.

Other thing worthy of note are the fact that Paps is appealing a three-game suspension he received for his conduct during Saturday’s game (which means that he’ll be able to pitch in this series), Scutaro is back from the DL and Lowrie’s shoulder is hurt, and Buchholz will pitch Friday instead of today due to a sore back, which has apparently been a problem for the entire season so far.  And last but not least, Papi was the American League’s Player of the Week.  During that week, he batted .545 with four doubles, two homers, and six RBIs.  Crawford had won the honor the previous week.

We are now tied with them for first place.  That’s why this series is huge.  We want to beat the Yankees whenever we can and preferably as frequently as possible, but now would definitely be the time to do it.  This series could put us in sole possession of first place definitively.

In other news, the Bruins decimated the Canucks, 8-1.  We scored four goals in the second period and four more in the third, and Tim Thomas made forty spectacular saves.  The terrible news is that Nathan Horton is out for the rest of the playoffs due to a severe concussion he received in the first period from Aaron Rome, who deserved every second of his five-minute major, game misconduct, and longest suspension in Stanley Cup finals history.

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Last night’s game was even longer than our game with the Yankees on Sunday; last night’s game lasted three hours and fifty-three minutes.  At least we didn’t have to watch it on ESPN.  No, sir.  We watched it on NESN and listened to the mellifluous tones of the voice of none other  than Jerry Remy, who has recovered from pneumonia and returned to the booth for the first time since April 27.  Man, it’s good to have him back.  And at least we’re now one game over .500! Finally, we’ve got a winning record! Wow.  That feels great.

It wasn’t easy, though.  It sure wasn’t easy.

Dice-K didn’t exactly bring the brilliance with him for this start.  Instead, he brought his usual.  He threw twenty-nine pitches in the first, when he almost face the entire lineup in that frame alone.  (He faced eight batters, so he was one batter shy.) His most efficient inning was the fourth, when he threw seventeen.  He didn’t last long; he was pulled after securing the first out of the fifth.  He was lucky that the offense backed him up, because he gave up five runs on five hits while striking out only two and walking seven.  Two strikeouts and seven walks.  Those numbers should be reversed.  This is the third time he’s walked at least seven in a game.  That’s just terrible.  He didn’t allow any home runs; it’s not like a few bad pitches did him in.  Only his four-seam was thrown for strikes more than fifty-five percent of the time.  Actually, his four-seam was fantastic; it was thrown for strikes eighty-one percent of the time.  The rest of his pitches, not so much.  His other pitches, quite frankly, were pretty terrible as well.  And as if all of that weren’t frustrating enough, what makes it even worse is the fact  that it’s Dice-K, and this has been going on for a while, so obviously there’s no analysis to be done to figure out what his mistake was, because whatever his mistake was, it’s a mistake he’s been making for quite some time.

We were down by six runs by the time we got on the board in the sixth.  But we got back in it in a hurry.  We put up a five-spot that inning.  It was glorious.  We sent ten men to the plate in that frame.  First, Drew singled.  Then, he scored on a double by Lowrie.  Crawford reached on a fielding error after that.  Lowrie scored on a single by Tek.  Ellsbury lined out and Pedroia flied out, and then Crawford scored on a single by Gonzalez, who scored with Tek on a double by Youk.  Then Papi walked, and Drew grounded out to end the inning.  One, two, three, four, five, and suddenly it was a one-run game.  And that, my friends, would be a textbook example of how you take what your pitcher gives you and you like it.

Meanwhile, Atchison pitched the rest of the fifth as well as the sixth.  He allowed both of his inherited runners to score and gave up a run of his own.  Aceves came on for the seventh, eighth, and ninth.  He gave up a home run on the second pitch of his outing, a curveball.  We got that run back when Lowrie tripled and scored on a single by Tek in the bottom of the inning.

At that point, we were trailing by one, and I was thinking about the fact that, in true Boston fashion, I believed that we would come back.  So naturally the companion thought to that was how furious I would be if we lost the first game of our home stand to the Orioles, which would put us back below .500.  I ruminated on that in the top of the eighth when Baltimore didn’t score.  I ruminated on that when we had two men on base in the bottom of the eighth and did nothing with that opportunity.  I ruminated on that when Baltimore went down in order in the top of the ninth.  I ruminated on that when Tek flied out to open the bottom of the ninth.  When Ellsbury walked on five pitches and stole second base only to have Pedroia also draw a walk, I was busy ruminating about how I just saw Adrian Gonzalez announce to his manager that he was going to change his batting stance in order to hit the ball in New York, step up to the plate, change his batting stance, and hit the ball in New York.  I was thinking about the fact that, not only is this guy the best hitter in the Majors right now, but he’s a hitter so good that he said he would get a hit and then he went out there and he made whatever adjustment was necessary and he just delivered; he got the hit like it was no big deal, like, well, he said he would, so then obviously he did.  When he laid into that ball on the first pitch he saw in that at-bat, an eighty-mile-per-hour slider, and he bounced it off the Green Monster, I knew we were going to win.  And we did.  Ellsbury and Pedroia both came around to score.  It was a walkoff.  His first in a Boston uniform.  The first of many.  And at that point I was ruminating on the walkoff mob.  And the final score.  8-7.

Youk, Drew, and Lowrie all went two for four.  Ellsbury and Tek both went two for five.  Gonzalez went three for five.  And the epic comeback, obviously.  It was our biggest comeback run-wise since April 25, 2009, when we were also down 6-0 at Yankee Stadium.

It was an epic comeback.  The only time we held the lead all game was when we cemented that final score.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to depend on that day’s pitching staff to hold that lead.  We have a winning record.  I repeat: we have a winning record! We are a winning team! And, I mean, Adrian Gonzalez.  Wow.  Welcome to Boston.

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Last night’s game could not have been a more quintessential example of Sox-Yanks.  It was long (all told, the whole game lasted three hours and forty-one minutes and spanned two days), it was suspenseful (both pitchers were struggling so the teams were going back and forth), it was powerful (five home runs were hit between the two teams), and it was close (the final score was 7-5).

And it had a winner and a loser.  The Yankees lost.  (I can only imagine John Sterling having to announce that on the air.) We won.  We swept the Yankees, and for the first time this season, we are now at .500! Forty games in, we are twenty and twenty.  Finally! The key of course will be staying at .500 and getting significantly above .500, but one step at a time.

It turns out that all this realigning of the rotation was done specifically to ensure that our top three starters would take on New York.  But that wasn’t why we won last night.  It may have been Lester up against Freddy Garcia, but he sure didn’t pitch like it.  Lester struggled early.  He hit Derek Jeter, who scored on a single by Mark Teixeira in the first.  He allowed two home runs in the second for a total of three runs.  Clearly his cut fastball wasn’t cutting or doing much of anything.  When he threw only nine pitches in the third, his only one-two-three inning of the night, I thought it would be smooth sailing from there, but his turnaround wasn’t quite that complete.  He didn’t allow any more runs, but he did walk four over the course of his six innings.  He allowed those four runs on five hits and struck out seven.  Not his best night, but not his worst either.  If those two cut fastballs actually cut or did something, he would only have allowed one run.  Still, overall, his pitches weren’t quite as effective as they usually are.  In the sixth, he threw twenty-two pitches, only nine of which were strikes.  He’s won five consecutive decisions, but in his last two starts, he’s walked nine.

Aceves came on to pitch the seventh and allowed New York’s fifth run; Curtis Granderson walked and scored on a double by A-Rod that should have been caught by Crawford, who instead made his first error in a Boston uniform.  Bard came in after that for the eighth, Paps took care of the ninth for his second save in three days, and finally the game was over.

Our lineup kept pace through the first three innings.  The Yankees scored first in the first; we got that run back in the second.  Youk struck out but reached on a passed ball.  A single and a walk later, the bases were loaded for Lowrie; all he could manage was a sac fly to bring home Youk and tied the game at one.  Papi tried to put us ahead; Crawford reached on a fielder’s choice, and Papi tried to come home but was out at the plate.

The Yankees put up a three-spot in the second with home runs; we put up a three-spot in the third, and we needed only one homer.  Ellsbury led off the inning with a double.  Two batters later, Gonzalez walked on five pitches.  And then, with the count full, Youk blasted one into the seats in left.  I mean, come on.  It was a fastball right down the middle.  It was eighty-nine miles-per-hour, which is obviously slow for a fastball, but it was right down the middle, and I don’t think anybody should have been surprised at what happened to it.

We put ourselves ahead by one in the fifth.  With two out, Papi broke his bat hitting a solo shot to right field.  (I also appreciated his dance performance during Tito’s in-game interview.) But the way the game had been going, we knew a one-run lead wouldn’t be good enough.  In the seventh, Pedroia walked, stole second base, and scored when Youk seemingly grounded to third.  But the ball rolled – wait for it – between A-Rod’s legs and Pedroia came home.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that.  Oh, how the tables are turned.

Then the Yankees got that one back in the bottom of the seventh, so we were back to a one-run lead.  Joba Chamberlain came on to pitch the eighth and got Crawford to ground out on his first pitch.  He had two strikes on Salty before throwing two balls.  With the count even at two, Chamberlain threw a slider that didn’t slide.  Salty was all over it.  He hit his first home run since August 2, 2009 and the first this year for our catchers.  He sent it to the first few rows of seats in right.  It was barely out.  In fact, it hit the top of the wall.  But it was still awesome.  And that was it for scoring last night.

To recap, we swept the Yankees.  In New York.  To get to .500.  We’ve won five of six games against the Yankees this year.  During this three-game set, their number three, four, and five hitters went six for thirty-four.  In 1996, it took us 128 games to get to .500; in 2011, it’s taken us 40.  This past weekend was one of the best weekends in our entire 2011 baseball lives.

But we’ve still got work to do.  Onward and upward.  We start a seven-game homestand today when we take on the Orioles.  This is a perfect opportunity to actually do something with the momentum we’ve created.  We’re at .500.  We need to pass that.  We need to keep on winning.  It’s Dice-K today, but as a team, we should be able to do something with the Orioles.

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Things did not start out too well for either pitcher.  We threatened in the first; Ellsbury was hit by a pitch and Pedroia singled.  (Despite the fact that Ellsbury has taken some bumps and bruises lately, he’s still fine.) Then CC Sabathia put up three consecutive swinging strikes.  Similarly, Beckett allowed two consecutive singles before securing two swinging strikes and a groundout.

Both Sabathia and Beckett settled down after that; nobody scored until the fifth.  With the bases loaded, Ellsbury smacked a double that brought in two.  That was it until the seventh, when we put up a four-spot.  Cameron led off the inning with a walk and scored on a single by Tek.  Two batters later, Pedroia singled and Gonzalez walloped a massive three-run shot into the seats behind the bullpen in right field.  It was a high fastball, and he had that ball’s number right from the beginning.  It was a blast to watch, both literally and figuratively.  He assumed his stance earlier, so he had more space over the plate.  By doing so, he had more room on the inside, which mean that Sabathia couldn’t pitch inside, which he had been wont to do with lefties.  Gonzalez has now hit five home runs in four consecutive games.  His longest home run streak, which he two years ago today, is five.  Coincidence? I think not.  It was his ninth of the season and eighth this month.  Even with two out, that pitch never stood a chance.  He is just on fire.  Right now, I would say he’s probably the hitter to beat in all of Major League Baseball.  You would never have known it from his two at-bats before that, but he smoked that ball all the way.

And that was the final score right there.  6-0.  We win.  Ellsbury went two for four; Pedroia went three for four with a steal.  Joe Girardi was ejected, and Jorge Posada took a mental health day that may or may not have coincided with a bad back day yesterday.  He claimed it had nothing to do with the fact that he was dropped to the number nine spot.  Oh, the drama.

So obviously the other really awesome part of the game was that zero.  Beckett was phenomenal.  Six shutout innings.  Four hits, two walks, nine strikeouts.  (Incidentally, he also struck out nine during the complete game he pitched in the 2003 World Series, also against the Yankees.  Coincidence? I think not.) 105 pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  He wasn’t able to use the two-seam as effectively as he wanted to, especially against lefties, but he worked a filthy changeup, and his cutter and four-seam were comparably unhittable.  He even threw in some nasty curveballs.  But that changeup and that cutter were just absolutely filthy.  He may have thrown twenty-one pitches in his first inning, but he threw only nine in his last.

As I said, he notched two K’s in the first, the last of which was a three-pitch strikeout of Robinson Cano put away with the changeup.  His second inning was one-two-three but he didn’t strike out anybody.  He notched two more swinging strikeouts in the third to open and end the inning, both ending with cutters.  The fourth was also one-two-three and featured back-to-back K’s, the first a swing and a miss on a cutter and the second a called strikeout on a cutter.  The fifth opened and ended with two five-pitch swinging strikeouts, the first on the curveball and the second on the changeup.  The sixth was one-two-three and began when A-Rod struck out on a cutter.  Beckett just mowed through the lineup.  He was dominant.  He was not somebody you wanted to mess with.  The Yankee lineup didn’t mess with him.  He got the win.  The only complaint anyone could possibly have with his outing is that he was slightly inefficient; had his work been more streamlined, he could have pitched at least another inning.  But in his two starts against New York this year, he has pitched fourteen shutout innings, given up only six hits, and struck out nineteen batters.  In general, he is currently nursing a shutout streak of eighteen and a third innings.  And his ERA is 1.75.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Albers pitched the seventh and eighth.  Hill pitched the ninth.  Done.

That was awesome.  It was just awesome.  We did everything the Yankees didn’t.  We manufactured runs.  We hit for power.  We also just out-pitched them completely.  So it’s pretty simple.  The worst we can do now is win the series.  But obviously what we really want to do is sweep.  The way the pitching matchups worked out, I’d say that’s a good possibility.

In other news, the Bruins dropped the first game of the series with the Lightning, 5-2.  Ouch.

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The phrase “that’s more like it” came to mind last night in every baseball sense with the exception of one.  We all know what that one was; more on that later.  Meanwhile, there were plenty of positives to go around before we got there.

Let’s start with Buchholz.  Buchholz delivered his best start of the season when it mattered most.  He kept us in it and started this series right.  He used every one of his pitches.  Okay, so his curveball wasn’t as effective as you’d think it would be for such a good outing.  But although his fastballs were thrown for strikes only about half the time, they were thrown for strikes nonetheless and had plenty of good movement on them.  And his cutter actually had some life to it, which is way more than we could say about his previous starts.  His cutter and changeup were extremely, extremely effective.  No matter how effective or how ineffective a particular pitch was overall, in true Buchholz fashion he wasn’t afraid to go to any pitch in any count and throw it for a strike.  This is the third consecutive start he’s won, but that’s really how you know he’s back.

Essentially, he cruised.  All told, he pitched through seven innings.  He allowed two runs on five hits while walking only one and striking out a season high seven.  He threw 110 pitches, sixty-five for strikes.  And finally, the paradoxical mark of a fantastic outing: those two runs were both allowed on a homer by Russell Martin in the fifth inning on the first pitch of the at-bat, one of the few cutters that didn’t cut.  Otherwise, everything was totally fine.

Buchholz enjoyed a one-two-three inning in the first that included two back-to-back strikeouts; first, Derek Jeter swung and missed on a fastball, and then Curtis Granderson swung and missed on a curveball.  Buchholz opened the second by striking out A-Rod, who swung and missed on a cutter.  He struck out Granderson on three pitches to end the third, featuring a changeup followed by a cutter and then another changeup that induced a swing and a miss.  (The third inning should have been one-two-three, but Jeter reached on a fielding error by Youk before that K.  The ball looked like it would be a routine grounder to third, but it bounced off Youk’s hand.  Luckily, he’s okay.) Nick Swisher struck out by swinging and missing on a cutter to end the fourth.  Mark Teixeira struck out by swinging and missing on a changeup to end the fifth, Buchholz’s longest inning at twenty pitches.  The sixth was the only frame in which Buccholz did not notch a single K.  Buchholz ended his outing with another one-two-three inning that started with his only called strike of the night, which he achieved using a changeup with which Martin could do absolutely nothing.

Martin’s home run actually tied the game at two.  In the fourth, Gonzalez led off with a solo shot.  First he took a ninety-one-mile-per-hour four-seam up and away for a ball; then he took a ninety-one-mile-per-hour four-seam up and straight down the middle out of the yard and into the first few rows of the second deck of seats in right field.  So was I annoyed when they intentionally walked him in the ninth to get to Youk? Obviously.  Speaking of Youk, he walked later in the inning and scored on a groundout by Crawford.

We secured some insurance in the seventh.  Ellsbury singled, stole second, moved to third on a single by Pedroia, and scored on a sac fly by Gonzalez.  With Pedroia on base and two out, Youk unleashed on a fourth-pitch fastball at ninety-eight and also sent it to right field.

Clearly, everyone felt pretty good going into the eighth, especially with Bard coming up.  Wrong.  It seems like, when you feel most at ease and most secure with the lead and you feel most confident in Bard to protect it, he lets you down.  He hadn’t pitched in three days; he needed the time off, but even when you need time off, sometimes it still messes with you.  Granderson led off the inning with a triple.  Then Teixeira popped out, and after that Bard lost all sense of the strike zone.  Granderson scored on a wild pitch to bring the Yankees within two.  Then A-Rod walked, Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch, and finally the inning was over with a strikeout and a groundout.

Crisis averted but not yet defeated.  Paps came on in the ninth; by that time, Bard had already put me on edge, so I wasn’t as surprised when, after Martin struck out swinging and Brett Gardner grounded out, Jeter singled, took second on defensive indifference, and scored on a single by Granderson to bring the Yankees within one.  Finally, Teixeira popped up on his first and only pitch of the at-bat.  Paps recorded his first save since April 22, ending the longest stretch of his career without one at twenty days.  The game was over, 5-4.

That was immensely satisfying.  Not only did we beat the Yankees, but we beat them by not only besting their starting pitching and hitting but also by putting down two late-inning comebacks.  Just a few days ago we came back three times and lost. We know how crushing that is.  It’s bitter medicine indeed.  So, yes, I was furious with Bard and Paps that they even put us in that position.  But you also have to admit it was nice to crush those rallies.

So the offense took care of business, Buchholz reigned supreme, and the relievers who are supposed to be the best of the best of the bullpen almost lost the game for us.  If you think about it, we haven’t had that many games this season where everything, the hitting and starting pitching and relief and fielding, went right.  But even with the rocky relief, I’ll take a win over New York any day.  A win today wins us the series, so let’s do it again.

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