Jon Lester hasn’t responded especially well to playing second banana. The southpaw pitched the Red Sox second game of the season for the third straight year…and as he had done on the two previous occasions, he struggled. He surrendered four runs on five hits and three walks over five innings in the club’s 6-4 loss to the NY Yankees.
In 2008, he allowed four runs in four innings pitched in the team’s 5-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome. Last year, he was tagged for five runs in five innings in a 7-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.
When Lester left the game, he was fortunate that the score was knotted at 4-4, thanks in large part to catcher Victor Martinez, who was 2-for-3, with a walk and three RBI in the ballgame. V-Mart hit a two-run home run into the bleachers to give Boston a 3-1 lead in the third inning. After the Yankees had taken a one-run lead in the top of the fifth inning, he doubled home Dustin Pedroia in the bottom of the frame to tie the game.
After Manny Delcarmen and Daniel Bard each pitched a scoreless inning, lefty Hideki Okajima fell victim to his own ineffectiveness and an error by new shortstop Marco Scutaro. After allowing a ground rule double and a single, Okajima induced a two-out grounder from Derek Jeter; but Scutaro threw the ball in the dirt allowing his Yankees counterpart to reach base. With the bases loaded, Okajima walked DH Nick Johnson to force home the eventual game-winning run.
Reliever Scott Atchison surrendered a LONG home run to 2B Robinson Cano in the ninth inning to provide the Yankees with an insurance run.
New York closer Mariano Rivera allowed a one-out double to Scutaro in the bottom of the ninth inning, but he struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and retired Pedroia on a fly ball to right field to record his first save of the season.
Scutaro was signed as a free agent this winter. Although he is not known for his glove, he was part of the front office’s newfound emphasis on run prevention. It was believed his offense would help offset the loss of run producers like Jason Bay and Mike Lowell from the lineup as the club turned to defense-minded players like Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre. But the front office certainly didn’t foresee that he would throw away a routine ground ball at a key moment of a game against the hated Yankees.
After the ballgame, Scutaro said: “I made a bad throw. That’s it. I don’t really have an excuse. It’s always hard when you make an error that cost you the game.”
Welcome to the fish bowl that is Boston, Marco.
Of Johnson’s bases-loaded walk, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said: “That’s what we anticipated he would do (when we signed him).” (NOTE: While he has a .272 career batting average, Johnson has compiled a .402 OBP)
He has four walks in 10 plate appearances in the first two games of the three-game series which ends tomorrow night (John Lackey vs Andy Pettitte, 7:05 PM).
While the Red Sox bullpen scuffled, the Yankees ‘pen pitched four scoreless innings. Alfredo Aceves (1-0) pitched two hitless innings after relieving starter A J Burnett. Three relievers struggled through the scoreless eighth inning, with Joba Chamberlain striking out a pair of hitters with the game-tying run at second base. Rivera then finished things off in the ninth.
It was a dramatic turnaround for the Yankees relief corps, which surrendered four runs in 2.2 innings in the Red Sox Opening Night win.
The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Youkilis. The Yanks answered with a run of their own in the second inning, before Martinez gave the Sox a 3-1 lead in the third with his first homer of the year. New York took the lead in the fifth inning…they loaded the bases with no outs on consecutive singles by Curtis Granderson and Jeter and a hit-by-pitch. They cut the deficit to one run on a Teixeira ground out, tied the game on an Alex Rodriguez double, and took a 4-3 lead on a Cano hit a sacrifice fly.
The Mind of Francona: There is no doubt that Tito has managed the personalities on his team expertly since coming to Boston, but I am constantly left to wonder what he is thinking when contemplating his in-game decisions.
Case in point: Bottom of the eighth inning. No one out. Youkilis at first base. NY manager Joe Girardi calls on southpaw reliever Damaso Marte to pitch to David Ortiz, with Mike Lowell sitting on the bench and available to pinch hit. Ortiz is just 2-for-14 against Marte in his career, with four strikeouts. Francona leaves Ortiz in the game to hit. Papi flies out.
Girardi brings in righty Joba Chamberlain to pitch to Adrian Beltre and JD Drew… Joba the Hut strikes out both of them.
Opportunity lost. We’ll never know what Lowell might have done against Marte, or how the game might have turned out.
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When Rivera made his first appearance of the year, the Yankees achieved a unique distinction—they are the first team in the history of professional sports to field a trio of teammates for 16 consecutive seasons (Rivera, Jeter and Jorge Posada). Previously, the Yankees had been tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the longest such streak (Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount played 15 seasons together from 1978-92).
Clay Buchholz is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday, as he is not due to be used until Sunday in Kansas City.
Burnett’s troubles at Fenway Park are nothing new… he was 0-2, 8.85, in four starts last year.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Johnson’s game-winning RBI-walk represented the sixth such game-winning RBI-walk the Yankees have registered against the Red Sox in the last nine years.