The key to this game was the start. There was the Jacoby Ellsbury leadoff home run and the Dustin Pedroia walk and the Adrian Gonzalez wall ball triple and the Kevin Youkilis sac fly and before we knew it, the Red Sox had staked their ace Jon Lester to a 3-0 lead. It looked like it could well have been the key to the series, too.
They had chased Freddy Garcia with two outs in the 2nd, forcing Joe Girardi to go to his bullpen early. The Red Sox seemed poised to tear through five or six Yankees relievers with two games left to play on Wednesday and Thursday. When you’re the Yankees Manager and you have that offense at your disposal, you can never really throw in the towel.
It wasn’t to be, though, as Hector Noesi was a beast, going six strong innings and limiting the Red Sox to just two runs. Lester was OK, but I credit the Yankees for some quality at bats more than I worry about Lester longer term. He had five strikeouts to one walk, an excellent peripheral ratio even if it was in just six innings of work. The Yankees had eight hits and fouled off something like 291 pitches. They’re tough.
Matt Albers and Daniel Bard were both very good in the 7th and the 8th respectively, and Jonathan Papelbon battled hard for his 12th Save. Yes there were some balls hit hard, yes Derek Jeter bailed him out on an awful 3-1 swing at a pitch well out of the zone, but there were also the Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez punch-outs suggesting Pap still can dominate.
Speaking of dominance, David Ortiz continued his incredible 2011. I don’t even know what there is to say at this point, but for now just know he’s hitting .324/.390/,602. His home run in the 5th off of Noesi gave the Red Sox a five run cushion and featured one of the snazziest bat flips you’ll ever see. It may have been over the top but who cares? It’s Papi. Gonzalez was on base three times in four plate appearances, and had both an RBI and two runs scored. J.D. Drew played a terrific right field.
The game was marred by a couple of injuries. Most notably, on an 0-2 slider in the home half of the 1st, Lester plunked Mark Teixeira in the right kneecap. It was loud and Tex was in obvious pain but it turns out it’s just a contusion. We’ll know more tomorrow but let’s hope he’s healthy. We don’t want the Yanks going out like that. Later in the game Bobby Jenks had to exit trying to protect a three run lead in the 7th. He managed just four pitches and left with the count 3-1 to Jorge Posada because of back pain.