Quick, check the calendar! Is it 2011, or 2007? After Josh Beckett's total domination of the Yankees tonight, it's hard to be sure.
Facing the Yankees with CC Sabathia starting and an ugly situation in the standings, the Red Sox needed a strong start out of Beckett now more than ever. But few could have imagined he would provide anything like this. From the very beginning, Beckett was on fire, striking out five batters and allowing just two baserunners through the first three innings. His two-seamer had unreal movement, and his curveball was not only breaking perfectly, but he was locating it for strikes. He only even gave up one fly ball out.
But even with Beckett dominating, the Red Sox still had to score runs, and after stranding four runners in the first two innings it seemed like the batters might be falling back into the same habits that have plagued them all year. But with the bases loaded and nobody out in the third, how could they screw it up?
With a little help from umpire Mark Wegner, they almost did just that. David Ortiz wasted no time grounding into a double play, but did manage to bring home the run from third--or so it seemed. But Wegner was gesturing towards Kevin Youkilis, who had slid wide into second, and the Red Sox were not happy. Interference was the call, and even though the double play was completed, Wegner was not about to fall back on the old rule of no harm, no foul, calling the runners who had advanced back to second and third base, erasing the run. While Mike Cameron's infield single would get the Red Sox on the board, it could have--even should have been two.
It wouldn't end up mattering, however, as after a slightly shaky fourth inning, Josh Beckett returned to dealing absolute filth. By the end of eight innings, Beckett had allowed just four men to reach base, and had taken out 10 by way of the K. The Yankees just didn't stand a chance.
By that point, the Red Sox had finally broken through at the plate. After loading the bases once again in the seventh (they had left them loaded the inning before), the Red Sox were hoping for even just a double play ball to give them the smallest of cushions. Marco Scutaro provided much more, ripping a double into left field, and giving Boston a 3-0 lead.
As an extra bonus, the Red Sox even got a 2007-like ninth inning from Jonathan Papelbon. It was a no-save situation thanks to a fourth run the Sox tacked on in the eighth, but that made no difference to Papelbon, who struck out Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira to mirror Beckett's first inning, looking downright untouchable for the second straight game.
The Red Sox are now 2-1 in their last three, and have just taken a series from the Yankees. We have 153 games to go, and only three to make up.