It took them 40 long games, but the Red Sox have finally won as many games as they've lost. And of all the ways to get the job done, a three-game sweep of the Yankees ranks pretty high.
Having just knocked off C.C. Sabathia in impressive fashion, Sox fans had to be feeling pretty good about a Jon Lester - Freddy Garcia matchup. But any optimism left the building when, having already allowed a run in the first, Lester gave up a pair of homers in the second inning to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
The good news was that Lester settled down, and the Red Sox had his back. The very next inning, it was Kevin Youkilis taking Garcia deep for three and knotting the game at 4-4. Then, with two outs in the fifth, David Ortiz hit his own bomb to give the Sox the lead. The bottom of the frame would be relatively quiet with only the lone single allowed by Lester, but the following three would be some of the tensest innings of the season.
While Lester had settled down, his pitch count had been built up enough in the first couple of innings that by the sixth, he was clearly tiring. After striking out Robinson Cano, Lester ran into some trouble, going to 3-1 counts against the next three batters, and walking two of them. When Brett Gardner took the first two pitches he saw for balls, things looked bad, but Lester escaped the innings on the very next pitch, inducing a pop-up to end the threat.
The Sox added to their lead in the seventh when Dustin Pedroia scored on an error by Alex Rodriguez, who let a slow ground ball roll harmlessly through his legs. It would turn out to be an important run, as Curtis Granderson drew a walk from former teammate Alfredo Aceves, and then scored when Alex Rodriguez made up for his mistake with a ground ball double that was misplayed by Carl Crawford.
Daniel Bard would finish off the frame by striking out Nick Swisher, and again the Sox found themselves with a two-run lead when Jarrod Saltalamacchia finally collected his first home run with Boston. Daniel Bard made Sox fans (and himself) sweat, taking 21 pitches to finally retire the Yankees in the eighth. But with the Sox headed to the ninth in the lead, out came Jonathan Papelbon. Despite some trouble keeping his shoes tied, Papelbon stared down three of the best hitters in the New York lineup, and sat them down in order.
It's not where we thought we'd be after 40 games, but right now, .500 feels pretty good.