On Sunday, the Yankees completed their series victory over the Red Sox with a 4-1 victory featured on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. The Yankees have now taken eight of 12 versus Boston, and of the four series played, the Yankees have won three of them.
On the hill for Boston was Josh Beckett, who the Yankees seem to have figured out as he gets older. Derek Jeter started out the game with a leadoff double in the bottom of the first inning, continuing his hot tear in 2012. Curtis Granderson knocked home Jeter with an RBI double to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third inning, Jeter continued to own Beckett by ripping a ground-rule double; after Nick Swisher walked, Jeter and Swisher each got steals, moving them to second and third. A wild pitch by Beckett scored Jeter, which made it 2-0 Yankees.
While Beckett was having a tough outing in the Bronx, his counterpart Hiroki Kuroda quieted and dominated the Boston bats. Kuroda got ahead of hitters and made the Boston hitters get themselves out. Kuroda allowed just two hits through the first six innings without allowing any runs.
The Yankees got their power boost from an unlikely source in Ichiro Suzuki, who was hitting eighth in the lineup.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Ichiro drilled an offering from Beckett into the seats for a solo home run, making it 3-0. Then, in the bottom of the sixth inning, Ichiro again hit another Beckett offering into the right-field seats for his second home run of the game, which made it 4-0 Yankees.
In the top of the seventh inning, Kuroda's lone mistake of the game was serving up a solo home run to Adrian Gonzalez on a pitch that was left in the middle of the plate, making it 4-1 New York.
The solo blast didn't rattle Kuroda and he just continued on in the game and got through the rest of the seventh and eighth innings. Rafael Soriano pitched an easy ninth, notching his 31st save of the season and wrapping up the Yankees 4-1 victory.
Kuroda pitched eight solid innings, allowing one run on four hits, walking none and striking out four to improve his record to 12-8.
This was another masterful performance by Kuroda, who, in his previous start, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers and their potent offense. With this start, not only did Kuroda pick up his 12th win, but he also lowered his ERA to a tremendous 2.96.
On offense, it was Jeter and Ichiro that seemed to torture Beckett, accumulating six of the Yankees' eight hits in the game.
Jeter's three hits, two of which were doubles, moved his average up to .321 as he continues to defy father time. And Ichiro continues to be a steal of a trade, as he looks like the Ichiro that captivated the fans in Seattle for 11 years and racked up over 200 hits every single season.
With his three hits, Ichiro increased his average to .272. What's even more impressive is that Ichiro is hitting .322 (28-for-87) with three home runs and 12 RBI in just 26 games played with the Yankees.
The Red Sox's disastrous 2012 season continues, as they fall to 59-63 and are 13.5 games out of first place in the AL East. The Boston players don't seem to buy into Bobby Valentine's system and it's only a matter of time before they either fire their manager or Ben Cherington decides to blow up the team and start over.
Beckett may be one of those players sent out, as he dropped to 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA and has simply lost his touch. On the other side, the Yankees improved to 72-49—5.5 games up in the AL East over the Tampa Bay Rays and 6.5 games up over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees now begin a three-game series on the road against the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox. The Yankees and Red Sox won't see each other again until September 11 at Fenway Park, and one last time at Yankee Stadium for a series that begins on October 1.
For Red Sox Nation, the misery of 2012 continues, and many probably can't wait for the New England Patriots' season to begin next month.
For Yankees Universe, their playoff hopes are alive and well, and beating up the Red Sox never gets old. Their next three games against Chicago will be crucial ones as they not only strive to keep their division lead, but their lead for best record in the American League over the Rangers.
Bombers fans all over still have a lot to feel good about from this weekend's series.
Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.
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