The Red Sox started off the second half of their season just as they started the first: with a win over the New York Yankees.
After Felix Doubront made quick work of the Yankees in the top of the first, it would be Jacoby Ellsbury who put the Red Sox ahead, and he did it on the second pitch thrown by Andy Pettitte. Putting a very nice swing on a hanging fastball, Ellsbury launched a rocket past the bullpens in right field and into the stands for a leadoff solo shot.
While the Yankees would eventually fight back, that resistance would not come until after the lead got larger. And once again it was a no-doubt home run doing the job. This time the honors would belong to Jonny Gomes, who continues to redeem a rough start to the season with big hits. It was another pitch hanging temptingly over the heart of the plate, but, while Ellsbury had to at least deal with some velocity, this time it was an absolute sitter of a changeup. It was begging to leave the park, and Gomes was only too happy to oblige, hitting it so hard on a line that it seemed to still be rising when it cleared the Monster.
The game would not be all sunshine for the Red Sox, however, and the first sign of that would come with the Yankees still hitless. In fact, entering the fourth, Felix Doubront had faced the minimum, having picked up a double play in the second to make up for a leadoff walk. There would still be no hits in the fourth, but after walking Brett Gardner, Boston's difficulty controlling the running game showed up in the worst of ways. While Doubront did manage to fool Gardner, throwing to first as he took off for second, Gardner simply committed to the attempt and actually managed to beat the tag. With Robinson Cano still at the plate, Gardner would take off for third not long after, then come home to score when Jarrod Saltalamacchia's throw went well wide past Brandon Snyder into foul territory.
It would get even closer in the fifth as the Yankees finally picked up a couple of hits, Vernon Wells smacking a long fly ball high off the Monster and scoring when Chris Stewart planted one slightly lower off the base of the wall in left. Doubront, however, recovered nicely, and finished his night with one out in the sevenh and only 93 pitches on his arm as John Farrell played matchups, bringing Junichi Tazawa in the game.
The Red Sox would not enjoy the most comfortable of bullpen performances, but ultimately, it was enough. Tazawa allowed just a walk in closing out the rest of the seventh, though it was a line drive to right that ended the inning.
Then, after Jose Iglesias picked up a big RBI single in the seventh to make it 4-2, Craig Breslow seemed intent on giving the lead away, allowing a one out single to Ichiro and double to Robinson Cano, putting runners on second and third with one out. A well-timed pop-out from Vernon Wells brought Breslow within one out, however, and a ground ball from Luis Cruz ended the frame with no runs in. With just three outs to go, Koji closed the door in less concerning fashion, going strikeout - ground ball - ground ball on just seven pitches to make the Sox 1-0 in the second half.
It wasn't a game without negatives. Shane Victorino once again pulled up lame at first, this time after just his first plate appearance. But when we're talking about wins over the Yankees, and about starting the second half of the season off right, we don't complain about how it was presented to us.