Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Felix Doubront throws a pitch in the first inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Featuring a mediocre lineup with only four starters--Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Mike Aviles--the Sox spent much of the night stymied by New York's offering of pitchers. Ivan Nova was first up, and fell into a strong rhythm after allowing a two-out double to Jacoby Ellsbury down the line in the first. He would get Saltalamacchia to fly out to end the threat, and then retired the next six batters he faced before giving up a single to Dustin Pedroia--the only other blemish on his outing.
Luckily for the Red Sox, Felix Doubront was capable of matching him step-for-step. Up against a much stronger Yankees lineup, Doubront found himself in trouble early on after giving up a hit to Russell Martin and walking Alex Rodriguez, but escaped the inning unharmed thanks to ground outs from Mark Teixeira and Raul Ibanez.
Like Nova, Doubront would throw two perfect middle innings with strikeouts to Russell Martin, Doug Bernier, and Bill Hall before making up for an Alex Rodriguez single with a double play in the fourth. Finishing the night with four scoreless innings, two hits, one walk, and three strikeouts, Doubront's outing ranks amongst the best from Sox starters so far this spring.
Doubront would arguably be topped, however, by his own competition in Vicente Padilla. Taking the mound in the sixth after a scoreless inning from Michael Bowden, Padilla struck out Martin and Rodriguez in his first inning of work, and a pair of backups in his second. Capping it off with a 1-2-3 eighth, Padilla finished with three perfect innings of work topped off with four strikeouts.
The Yankees, however, were holding on behind Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, and--at least for two innings--David Phelps. Facing his first batter in the ninth, however, Phelps gave up a simple base hit, and then watched his defense give up the game.
Surprisingly, it was Monday's walk-off hero Pedro Ciriaco who once again came through for the Red Sox. Dropping a hit into right field, Ciriaco saw his ball fly past an awkward looking Zoilo Almonte. With Almonte having to track the ball to the wall, Ciriaco took off for third and beyond. Almonte's throw went sailing behind the cutoff man, and the last-ditch throw from behind the plate to catch the runner at home bounced off Gustavo Molina's glove, allowing Ciriaco to score on his own single. Junichi Tazawa would strike out the side in the ninth, leaving the Sox victorious in their first meeting with the Yankees.