This was a perfect game.
Not in that all its components were perfect--far from it--but the sum total of those parts were about as good as it gets.
With Josh Beckett on the mound against Freddy Garcia, the stage was set for a possible blowout. Beckett, after all, had allowed just two earned runs in 21 innings against the Yankees entering Sunday's game, while Garcia had given up nine to Boston in only eight innings.
At least one of those trends held true. Josh Beckett was the same Josh Beckett he's been so far this season, holding the Yankees to just one run on a Green Monster shot to Eduardo Nunez over six innings. Unfortunately, the other trend that held was that Josh Beckett was deprived of some well-deserved run support. somehow, Garcia managed to escape a bases loaded, zero outs situation in the second with just one run scoring and then Boone Logan managed to get out of a similar situation in the sixth thanks in part to some questionable green lighting of Jason Varitek on a 3-0 count.
So it was that Matt Albers entered the seventh inning stuck in a 1-1 tie, and so it was that the low slider that Brett Gardner managed to dig out and send into the stands past the bullpens gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
Which left the Red Sox facing Mariano Rivera in the ninth.
For once, though, that proved not to be a death sentence. Marco Scutaro stepped up to the plate riding a perfect 3-3 day. His single in the second had been the only run production for Boston to that point, and he'd even added another hit in the key sixth inning before Jacoby Ellsbury left the bases loaded. He didn't single this time, though, instead cleaning out a 2-2 cutter from Mariano Rivera and planting it off the Monster for a leadoff double. Trailing by just one, the Sox elected for some small ball, with Jacoby Ellsbury bunting him to third, and Dustin Pedroia bringing him home with a long line out to left field. In the span of just four pitches the Sox had dealt Mariano Rivera his fifth blown save of the season.
With Daniel Bard shutting down the Yankees in the tenth, the Sox had their opportunity to win things in the bottom of the inning, and after Kevin Youkilis flew out to start the inning, it was Mr. Clutch himself, David Ortiz who ended up starting the rally, lining a Phil Hughes fastball to right field and up into the stands for a ground rule double. Knowing that Carl Crawford was on an amazing 9-for-10 hot streak and perhaps hoping to set up a double play, the Yankees elected to give him the intentional walk and pitch to Josh Reddick.
The at bat lasted all of one pitch. Phil Hughes delivered a curveball which hung over the outside of the plate. Josh Reddick didn't let it go to waste, sending it into the opposite field and just fair. As the ball bounced up against the wall, Brett Gardner turned to throw it back in, but held the ball and watched as a pinch-running Darnell McDonald crossed the plate with ease to score the winning run.
With the win, the Sox are now 10-2 against the Yankees this season, which means they've clinched the season series against their arch-rivals for the first time since 2004. That leaves them effectively 1.5 games up on their A.L. East competition, since with the wild card likely to come from the East, the tie-breaker would go to the team with the best heads-up record.
It's off to Minnesota tomorrow, but for now Sox fans can enjoy their most recent walkoff, and another series victory over the Yankees.