July 28, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks (64) doubles and drives in two runs against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
They say it's better to be lucky than good. That's debatable, but there's no question that luck certainly helps. And with the Red Sox putting together some good, and some bad, it was ultimately the luck that won it for them.
Of course, that luck came in the form of some extra bad for the Yankees, but that's enough semantics for now.
For the first four innings of the game, it seemed as though Lester was going to fall into the good category for once. He finally dodged first-inning trouble, recording three quick outs to put up a scoreless inning. He'd retire the first eight batters he faced, in fact, before getting punished for what wasn't that bad of a pitch by Chris Stewart, who grabbed just the third homer of his major league career. He picked up another quick inning in the fourth, but then fell apart in the fifth, allowing three runs to come around after letting the first four batters reach base, giving up another homer to the second batter in Jayson Nix.
The offense, thankfully, had done its job so far. Pedro Ciriaco and Dustin Pedroia had set the table in the first for Adrian Gonzalez, who doubled home one before Will Middlebrooks made it an early 3-0 lead with a double of his own. The first half of this scene would repeat itself in the fifth, but with Gonzalez taking a hanging breaking ball from CC Sabathia and depositing it in the stands this time, leaving the lead at 6-1 before Lester gave it all back in the bottom half.
The Sox would finally unravel all the way in the eighth in perhaps the most aggravating way possible, as the hated Mark Teixeira got the better of Vicente Padilla in the most recent installment of their personal war, launching a two-run shot to right that tied the game. The signs had been there during Curtis Granderson's at bat, as the outfielder sent two homer-distance drives just foul to right. Padilla survived that fight, only to be knocked out shortly thereafter.
That's when the luck showed up, however. With Jacoby Ellsbury on first base, Pedro Ciriaco hit a looping fly ball to center field. It wasn't much of a hit, easily catchable for any outfielder who started where Granderson had. But somehow the center fielder got himself twisted around, backtracking slowly and awkwardly, and coming up just short. The ball dropped in, Ellsbury made it all the way home from first, and Ciriaco stood at third, from where he'd score on a (crushed) sacrifice fly from Dustin Pedroia. Ace cleaned up the ninth, and the Sox won.
It would've been better if Jon Lester could've maintained his momentum through the fifth, but for tonight you take what you get: good hitting from Dustin Pedroia, Pedro Ciriaco, Adrian Gonzalez, and Will Middlebrooks, and a night of frustration for Yankees fans.