The Red Sox bounced back from their Tuesday night drubbing with a 5-1 win over the Yankees that was crazy in all the right ways.
So, let's not waste time. After the Red Sox scored two runs off of Michael Pineda in the bottom of the first, the Yankees' young pitcher returned to the mound in the second with a big ol' smear of pine tar on his neck. NESN's cameras caught it immediately, John Farrell headed out to talk to the umpires with two outs (shortly after David Ortiz came strolling out of the clubhouse), and the madness was on. Swiping a finger along Pineda's neck, home plate umpire Gerry Davis made the call, ejecting Pineda and sending the Yankees into their bullpen very early.
This is the story that's going to consume the media for at least the next 24 hours. But it shouldn't be the only thing we pay attention to tonight. Even if Pineda hadn't been tossed, the Red Sox likely would have left this game with a win, because John Lackey was in rare form.
It's not that Lackey's stuff was overpowering or baffling. Lackey showed just how much a pitcher can do with command alone. He threw strike after strike after strike without offering up any real meatballs that were just begging to be hit. Constantly ahead in the count, Lackey put the Yankees on the defense and kept them there, pitching an eight-inning, one-run gem with eleven strikeouts and not a single walk.
The Red Sox offense, therefore, did not need to do that much. Nothing, in fact, beyond the two runs they put together in the first on a Grady Sizemore triple and singles from Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, and A.J. Pierzynski. The last of those singles highlights another part of what made this game so great for Red Sox fans, as it was a ground ball somehow ruled a base hit despite going straight through Derek Jeter's legs. Yes, Jeter was in fine form tonight, botching multiple plays over the course of the game and giving Red Sox fans plenty of comic material.
There was even a disappearing ball "trick" in the third inning, with a Mike Napoli double hopping up into the stands without Brett Gardner or anyone else realizing it. Napoli rounded all the bases while Gardner stood baffled in right before the umpires could get together and send him back to second base and David Ortiz to third. It was still worth an RBI, scoring Dustin Pedroia, while David Ortiz managed to come home later in the inning on a wild pitch.
All things told, it was a performance that somehow managed to make up for the nightmare that was Tuesday night. It will be remembered, in the long run, for the pine tar. But between the offense having some fun (albeit remaining wasteful), Lackey's fantastic bullpen-saving performance, and the Jeter hilarity, there's plenty of fun to be had even beyond the Pineda incident.