Sox-Yankees: Boston Riposte Leaves Burnett Talking To Himself

Jeffrey BrownAnalyst IAugust 23, 2009

In the bottom of the fifth inning, NYY starter A J Burnett was facing David Ortiz. He was ahead in the count, 1-2, when he tried to throw a fastball by the Sox DH on the outer half of the plate. Ortiz went with the pitch and lofted it into the Green Monster seats.

In the immediate aftermath of the home run that put the Sox ahead 8-0, Burnett could be seen talking to himself as he walked around the infield at Fenway Park. Afterwards, we learned he was chiding himself for throwing a fastball: “Why? Why? Why? Why did I throw that?”. In a post-game interview, he also threw catcher Jorge Posada under the bus for calling too many fastballs and not enough curveballs (”I had a good hook today, and I should have thrown it on more counts”).

Burnett had LOTS of reasons to talk to himself yesterday. He surrendered nine runs on nine hits and two walks over five innings in the Red Sox 14-1 over the Yankees at the park declared "America's Favorite Ballpark".  A day after the Yanks thrust a sword into the heart of Red Sox Nation, the Olde Towne Team parried and reposted with their own offensive barrage against Burnett.

The offensive demonstration provided hope that when the rotation gets straightened out—and it WILL straighten out—the offense will be sufficiently formidible for the Sox to make a deep run into the post-season.

Rookie Junichi Tazawa got the start for the Sox a day after veteran Brad Penny and fellow rookie RHP Michael Bowden got blistered by the Yankees offense...and while he constantly pitched with runners on base, he showed an uncanny ability to make the big pitches when he had to make them. He allowed ten baserunners in six innings—at least one in every inning he pitched—yet kept the New Yawkuhs off the scoreboard.

With one out in the top of the first inning, "Taz" surrendered a double to Nick Swisher and then hit Mark Teixeira with his first pitch, but he retired Alex Rodriguez on a long fly ball to center field and Hideki Matsui on a routine fly ball to left field to escape the jam.

The offense celebrated by scoring three runs off Burnett in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez hit back-to-back singles. After Kevin Youkilis fouled out, David Ortiz doubled to left field to drive home both runs. Jason Bay lined a single into left-center field to score Papi.

Tazawa got through the second inning with an assist from Yankees 2B Robinson Cano. Jorge Posada started things by drawing a base on balls. Cano lined a single down the left field line… when Posada advanced to third base, Cano tried to stretch his base hit into a double. Jason Bay hustled to the ball and came up throwing, nailing Cano easily at second base. Right fielder Eric Hinske ripped a line drive right at Martinez at first base for the second out… Melky Cabrera flew out to Jacoby Ellsbury in center field as the Red Sox rookie escaped again.

The Sox struck for four more runs in their half of the frame. Alex Gonzalez homered with one out. An out later, Burnett walked Pedoia and Martinez on eight pitches to bring cleanup hitter Youkilis to the plate… the Sox third baseman launched a 2-2 pitch over the Green Monster to extend the lead to 7-0.

While Burnett would retire the next nine batters in succession, Tazawa continued to scuffle. He allowed one hit in a scoreless third inning. He issued a walk and gave up a one-out double to put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out in the fourth inning; but, once again, he bore down—striking out Hinske and retiring Cabrera on a grounder back to the mound.

Ortiz’ home run broke up Burnett's streak of consecutive outs in the fifth inning. Bay and J D Drew followed Papi, each doubling to increase the lead to nine runs.

Alfredo Aceves relieved Burnett to start the sixth inning, but the Sox offense didn’t miss a beat. After the right-hander retired the first two batters, Pedroia doubled and Martinez dumped an rbi-single in front of Cabrera in center field. Youkilis followed with his second home run of the game to make the lead a dozen runs.

Meanwhile, Tazawa continued to pitch into and out of difficulty.  Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez managed two-out singles off him in the fifth inning only to be left on base when Hideki Matsui popped out to third base. Cano and Hinske singled with one out in the sixth inning, but that rally died when Cabrera grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

The last pitch was Tazawa's 99th and final pitch. After tha game, Sox pitching coach John Farrell echoed what Portland Sea Dogs pitching Mike Cather said to me a month ago in Manchester, NH, after a Double-A game. Farrell said: “The challenges that he’s faced in a very short period of time, he’s met them with the same mentality and the same body language that he showed in spring training... Less than a year ago he was pitching in the Industrial League in Japan. What he’s done in a very short period of time is impressive".

Daniel Bard relieved Tazawa in the seventh inning and surrendered a home run into the first row of the monster seats to account for the Yankees only run. The Sox finished the scoring in the eighth inning on consecutive doubles by Pedroia, Casey Kotchman and Youk.

Enrique Gonzalez pitched the final two innings for the Red Sox to close out the contest.


Youkilis’ six RBI tied a career high.


David Ortiz’ home run gave him twenty for the eighth straight season. Okay, SOX1FANation, it’s time to be really honest: did anyone REALLY think he’d get to twenty this year when he didn’t even hit his first dinger until May 20th? (Let alone the fact that he got there before September 1st!)


Thirteen of the Red Sox fourteen runs were scored with two outs.