Michael Pineda was the star Thursday night as Boston's lineup was kept quiet once more, falling 4-1 to the Yankees.
Remember how last October the Red Sox would be shut down all game long, have one big inning (or often one big hit), and we'd say "okay, now the offense is back and we won't have to suffer through this again tomorrow!"
Well, if David Ortiz reminded us last night that the Red Sox are never out of any given game, tonight the 2014 Red Sox reminded us that a sign of life, no matter how high-impact, is no guarantee for tomorrow.
To be fair to the lineup, Michael Pineda was pretty amazing tonight. A (consistently) wide strike zone made Pineda's slider particularly deadly, while his fastball was up to the velocity Yankees fans were probably expecting to see when he was first traded to New York. The Red Sox managed hard contact in the first, with Dustin Pedroia just missing a wall ball and David Ortiz ripping a liner that a leaping Kelly Johnson snagged out of thin air, but any promise that inning provided would quickly evaporate. Pineda would strike out five batters over the next three innings, allowing just a pair of walks to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mike Napoli as he flirted with a no-hitter early on.
Clay Buchholz had managed to match him in the first three innings, at least in terms of keeping runs off the board. While his fastball was not completely under control, his off-speed offerings were sharp, and the Yankees had managed just a pair of ground ball singles. In the fourth, however, one bad play from Jonathan Herrera spelled the difference. A simple ground ball from Jacoby Ellsbury ate up Boston's substitute third baseman, and another pair of ground ball hits would prove enough to get the run in. Finally, a fourth straight ground ball gave Buchholz his first outs of the inning as the Sox turned two, but even that brought home a second New York run.
The Red Sox would get their first hit of the game courtesy of Xander Bogaerts in the fifth, but any celebration was short lived, as Buchholz allowed a couple of more convincing runs in the bottom half of the inning. First was Dean Anna clubbing his first career home run--hardly an auspicious sign--then a combination of a Derek Jeter ground-rule double and Jacoby Ellsbury single proved good for a fourth.
Boston finally got on the board in the seventh, with Daniel Nava hitting a solo homer to right. But the back end of the lineup could do little to capitalize, stranding Xander Bogaerts at second base on two strikeouts and a ground ball. New York's thin bullpen proved up to the task of holding the anemic Red Sox lineup from there, leaving the Yankees with first blood in this chapter of the rivalry.
Another frustrating game from the Red Sox lineup. Hopefully, as in 2013, when they turn it on they really turn it on.