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Back On Top: Red Sox Crush Yankees, Take American League (East) Lead

The fuss over Dustin Pedroia's knee has taken some varnish off it by now, but the Red Sox are now in first place in the American League and, by extension, the American League East having crushed the Yankees 11-6 Wednesday night.

The story was much the same for A.J. Burnett as it was for Freddy Garcia on Tuesday--only he wasn't pulled in the second inning. After a Jacoby Ellsbury single, Kevin Youkilis double, and a very loud David Ortiz home run (no bat toss this time) put the Yankees down 3-0 in the first, he surrendered a fourth thanks to some poor defense from Francisco Cervelli helping Marco Scutaro to round the bases with relative ease.

Now, it's questionable whether Freddy Garcia could have escaped the second inning with just one run last night, or if he could have a scoreless third as Burnett did. But he quickly returned to Garcia form by giving up three runs in the fourth and leaving the game after providing the Sox with yet another baserunner who would score in the sixth. But if eight runs seems enough for a safe win, well, you've forgotten the volatility of the man on the mound for the Sox.

It is at this point that I'd like to acknowledge the contributions of one Derek Jeter. He goes by many names--Captain Groundout his most recent--but today he was in truly exceptional form. When Marco Scutaro scored in the second inning, it was after an infield single to Derek Jeter. When Dustin Pedroia brought Jason Varitek home in the fourth, it was again Derek Jeter holding the ball as he scampered into first.

But his greatest accomplishment came in the sixth inning. Wakefield had done his semi-usual explosion thing, offering up four runs between the fourth and fifth innings and leaving two men with one out in the sixth. Out came Alfredo Aceves, and into the outfield went two balls for base hits, leaving the bases loaded and the Yankees down just three runs.

Up came Captain Groundout.

Alfredo fell behind. 1-0, then 2-1, and finally 3-1. He battled back on the fifth pitch, though, running the count full. 

Aceves and Varitek settled on a two-seam fastball, and it came to the plate heading for the high, inside part of the strike zone. 

Jeter was true to his nickname. He hacked, the ball hit the ground, and found Kevin Youkilis' glove. Youk got it to Pedroia, and Pedroia got it to Gonzalez. 5-4-3 and the inning was over. From there, it was all Aceves on the mound, and one big ninth inning featuring homers from J.D. Drew and Carl Crawford to rub salt in the wound. And just to put the cherry on top, it was once again Alex Rodriguez recording the final out for New York as Boston took back first place.