Some notes on yesterday's win in New York.
- Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes: weird. The White Sox thing was strange too, but to my eyes this is a different level of weird. I knew this day was coming and I still find myself rooting for Youk a bit. I hope the Yankees tank and he gets dealt to the Braves at the deadline. Also, get your own Youuuk chant, Yankees fans.
- David Ortiz not in the lineup: also weird although less so as we got used to it a bit last season and then again this spring. Word that Big Papi could be with us in the not too distant future sounds like a cherry on top of the 8-2 sundae I just ate.
- Jackie Bradley wasn't quite a revelation, but he was quite good. At the plate JBJ reached base three times in five plate appearances with three walks and a strikeout. The one time he made contact he hit a hard hit grounder up the middle that went off the pitcher (Boone Logan, I think) right to Robinson Cano who threw Bradley out. Most times that's a hit. Either way it's a hard hit ball that got a run home.
Bradley's first plate appearance was very impressive. He fell behind CC Sabathia 0-2 before taking four pitches for a walk with a foul ball sandwiched in the middle. Some of the pitches were close, but PITCHf/x shows they were all outside the zone. That walk loaded the bases and set the stage for the Red Sox four-run inning. The next hitter was Jose Iglesias, who grounded to the hole between shortstop and third base. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez fielded the ball and threw to second but Bradley just beat the throw. The run would have scored anyway, but Jacoby Ellsbury followed with an out which would have ended the inning had Bradley been out if things worked that way which they don't but whatever. Anyway, Bradley was safe so Shane Victorino batted and singled in two more runs.
- One of the few hard hit balls off Jon Lester came from Robinson Cano. With two outs and Brett Gardner on second base, Lester left one up in the zone to Cano and Cano didn't miss it. They say that on a tough fly ball to the outfield you don't waste time tracking it the whole way while you are running. Turning your head slows you down. Instead sprint to the spot where you think the ball will be then turn your head and locate the ball. That's exactly what Bradley did. Here's Jackie Bradley on the run to catch that deep line drive off the bat of Robinson Cano.
Bradley was playing in (not sure why, it's Cano) but made up some serious ground. The wind blew the ball a bit requiring Bradley to turn once he got to the spot and continue backwards, which he did. Then he caught it, which you know. It was a great play by Bradley, which you also know. Jonny Gomes would probably not have made that play (unless you believe this guy) which you also know. It saved a run. Maybe you didn't know that. I hope not.
Overall, Bradley didn't hit the ball over the wall, and in fact, didn't hit it out of the infield, but through his batting eye and defensive work he made a large and positive impact on the game.
- Jonny Gomes is not known as a great baserunner but yesterday he made a great baserunning play
Home plate is just in that small slice of world in front of Gomes' right ankle and above the baseball bat. Coming around from second on a infield single (!), Gomes managed to sneak his legs under Francisco Cervelli's outstretched glove (with ball) while contorting his upper body to avoid the tag. The run was the Red Sox eighth so it wasn't like the outcome of the game rested on this -- one look at the stands bears that out -- but it was a nice piece of work from someone not noted for anything but his bat.
- Of Jose Iglesias's three hits, none left the infield, but that doesn't mean they weren't hit hard. I mean, they weren't hit hard but that doesn't mean they weren't. If Iglesias hits the ball like that he'll keep making outs like last year. That said it's only one game so no condemnation here. Also, credit Iglesias with an excellent drag bunt up the first base line to Kevin Youkilis, who had switched from third to first. Youk was playing back and once the ball got past the pitcher's mound, a virtual certainty given its rotund resident, the hit was a given. Smart play and good execution by Iglesias.
- The Back of the Lineup: Just about everyone in the lineup came away with a hit yesterday, but starting with Salty in the sixth spot of the order, here is the number of times Red Sox batters reached base: 4, 3, 3, 3. The last four guys in the lineup got on 13 times! That's some production right there. And it ran right into Ellsbury's three hits at the top of the lineup, which was kinda nice too.
- There was a point when this game wasn't assured for Boston. Andrew Miller started the bottom of the seventh inning by walking two straight hitters. He followed that up by striking out the next two in impressive fashion, but right handed hitting Kevin Youkilis (him again) was coming to the plate so out went the lefty Miller and in came the righty Andrew Bailey. Outside of spring training Red Sox fans haven't seen much from Bailey since Boston acquired him last off-season. In fact, this was the first time Bailey has stepped on the mound in a Red Sox uniform with the outcome of his pitching making any difference in the greater scheme of the baseball season. With two outs, two runners on, a three run lead, and facing one of the Yankees better hitters (weird to say, but true) Bailey dominated.
He started Youkilis off with a 95 mph fastball down the middle. After that he was on the corners the whole time.
That's from Brooks Baseball, by the way. After the heat, Bailey threw two excellent curves, the first of which (2 on the plot above) Youkilis swung over the top of. The second (3) just missed the bottom corner of the zone. After that it was all gas. Two 95 mph fastballs later, one inside that Youkilis fouled away, and the next up that he waived at and missed. Inning over, threat over, Yaaaaankees can sit down now.
The Red Sox started the season off on a high note with a win in Yankee Stadium over the hated rivals. Scoring off Joba Chamberlain and whatever that thing is that now lives on his upper lip always makes wins just a tad better in addition to making ice cream creamier, puppies softer, and rainbows more vibrant, which is to say nothing of ice cream puppy rainbows. More of them, please. And Red Sox wins too. Those are the best.