Alex Rodriguez hit his 660th career home run in Fenway Park Friday night, tying Willie Mays and scoring the game-winning run in one fell swoop.
On the one hand, it's hard to really feel too bad about dropping the opener against the Yankees. After all, this was Justin Masterson vs. nine left-handed hitters. Masterson struggles to get inside against lefties on his best nights, and tonight was not his best night, at least in terms of location. There were no cheap hits off Masterson, it was all line drives on elevated pitches over the plate.
And yet...Masterson didn't allow runs. Not many, at least. The Yankees picked up one in the first, with Carlos Beltran (who was hitting .162 before tonight) doubling to left-center to score Jacoby Ellsbury. And that was pretty much it for the Yankees off Masterson. Not in terms of baserunners, but in terms of actual production. New York would put two in scoring position with one out in the fourth only for Garrett Jones and Stephen Drew to go strikeout - ground out. Another ground ball got him out of a bases loaded situation in the fifth, and the sixth followed without incident.
The Sox had given him a lead in the meantime, but one that wasn't nearly so large as it perhaps should have been. Where the Yankees were failing to take full advantage of their opportunities, the Red Sox' waste was as much the fault of misfortune as their own inability. It was Hanley Ramirez who failed to bring home either of the two runners he was given with two down in the third after Mookie Betts had brought Xander Bogaerts in to tie the game on a sacrifice fly. But in the third, after Allen Craig of all people had homered to tie things up, it was a fan reaching into play and deflecting a Ryan Hanigan double that likely prevented Xander from Scoring again.
That would prove just a preview of the fifth inning to come. There, after Dustin Pedroia reached base to lead off the inning, he wound up doubled up off first as David Ortiz hit a line drive directly to Chase Headley. What could have been first-and-third with zero outs was instead two down and nobody on. Still, the Red Sox nearly managed to push another run accross when Hanley Ramirez reached on an error by Didi Gregorius and Mike Napoli hit a double to right field. Had the ball bounced up against the wall, Hanley would have had a good chance to score. Instead, it bounded over it, and Hanley was left on third when Pablo Sandoval grounded out.
The Red Sox could have had five runs off CC Sabathia pretty easily with a little more luck. Instead, it was 2-1 headed to the seventh, and John Farrell tried to get one more inning out of Justin Masterson. And really, with just over 80 pitches on his arm, how could he not? But Masterson walked the first man he faced--the #9 hitter in Gregorius--and that was the end of his night. Tommy Layne picked up a couple of quick outs, but threw a bad 0-2 pitch to Mark Teixeira, catching the first baseman on the hand, and then Ryan Hanigan's right hand on the ricochet to boot, fracturing Hanigan's finger and precipitating the beginning of the Blake Swihart era.
There was still, however, a game to be lost. Layne did his part by allowing Brian McCann to tie it with a hit to left field, bringing the inherited runner in to score. Then, in the eighth, Alex Rodriguez came in to pinch-hit against Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa fell behind 3-0 to Rodriguez, then tried to sneak a get-me-over strike past Rodriguez, who blasted it into the Monster seats on a line.
3-2, Yankees. Blame Marc Normandin. I'm guessing nobody in a Red Sox hat cheered.
The Red Sox at least made some noise against Dellin Betances, who has been more-or-less unhittable. But neither Brock Holt nor Xander Bogaerts could get the job done with two men on base, and Andrew Miller cruised through the ninth, leaving Rodriguez' homer the game-winner.