It started off so well. For awhile, it looked like the Yankees were rolling along toward a doubleheader sweep of the Red Sox, but some shoddy pitching and defense led to a disappointing split. Within the first three batters of the game, Mark Teixeira gave the Yankees an early 3-0 lead with a three-run homer against Boston starter Felix Doubront. Tex has looked great in this series against Boston and Yankees fans can only hope that he keeps it up as they enter the second half of the season. Unfortunately, the Yankees did not do much else tonight against Boston pitching. After the homer by Tex, Doubront allowed only two hits (one of which was a monster homer by Andruw Jones, his third of the doubleheader) and a walk in 6.1 innings of work. He gave the Red Sox a good starting pitching performance that their bullpen desperately needed, and shut the Yankees' offense down for the second time this season. Matt Albers, Clayton Mortensen, Vicente Padilla, and Alfredo Aceves pitched effectively out of the Boston bullpen to close down the game, though Padilla had to relieve Mortensen in the eighth inning and get both Jones and pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez (not Alex Rodriguez for who knows why) to pop out with the bases loaded.
Phil Hughes did not bring his best stuff to Fenway tonight, as he was bombarded for ten hits and three runs in 5.1 innings. His pitches were hit hard, and even the outs he was recording seemed to come on line drives. The bottom of the Boston batting order really gave him problems. Pedro Ciriaco and Mauro Gomez, two guys in their mid-to-late twenties who were in AAA Pawtucket at the start of the season, combined for five hits in six plate appearances against Hughes. A Gomez double and Ciriaco bunt single led to Boston's first run in the third, and Ciriaco came around to score thanks to poor outfield defense after singling again in the fifth. Daniel Nava hit a long fly ball into right-center that both Curtis Granderson and Darnell McDonald (the southpaw-hitting extraordinare batting ninth) chased, but it fell off Granderson's glove to go for an error. McDonald was fairly charged with the error as his charging toward the play made Granderson slow his chase to avoid contact, which led to the misplay. The Yankees lost their 3-2 lead in the following inning (that nasty-looking jump up on the WPA graph). Follow the jump for the meaning of these shenanigans. Note: it includes some questionable bullpen strategies and poor pitching. Beware.
Adrian Gonzalez singled on a line drive to right to begin the rally, and Cody Ross reached on a routine grounder to Jeter that was bobbled. Yes, the Captain still messes up plays hit right at him too, not just the difficult ones. Gomez singled to left to load the bases, and Ciriaco lined a double down the left field line for a three-run double to give Boston a 5-3 lead. The infield positioning on the double was odd, as Jayson Nix was playing quite far from the third-base line. It's not clear if that was Nix's or the coaches' decision, but it ended up poorly for the Yankees. An overworked Boone Logan, appearing in his 43rd game of the year already, relieved Hughes and managed to escape the inning without any more runs scoring despite walking the bases loaded. Immediately after Andruw Jones made it a one-run game though, the bullpen began to throw the game away. Logan was allowed to face the lefty Gonzalez, but he hit a booming double to centerfield to start off the seventh, leading to Logan's departure. He really needs that All-Star Break for some rest, and hopefully he can come back after the several days off looking like the Logan of April-June. That Logan was a fine reliever, and it's a shame that Torre-like overuse by Girardi is leading to ineffectiveness. Girardi needs to break his reliance on Logan, as the lefty is on pace to appear in a Pedro Feliciano-like 84 games this year. Girardi is known for his ability to keep relievers from having such seasons, so I expect a turnaround from this trend, but it needs to happen soon.
For some reason, Girardi thought that a one-run game in Fenway would be an excellent time to see if Cory Wade had regained his effectiveness! Needless to say, it was not. Every batter Wade faced crushed the ball. Ross grounded out sharply to Nix, then Ryan Sweeney tripled Gonzalez home and Gomez crushed an RBI double to score Sweeney. Ciriaco grounded one to third base that Nix threw away for an error, scoring pinch-runner Mike Aviles. Ciriaco then stole third on Russell Martin, who threw the ball into left field because he decided he wanted to join the error-making fun after actually breaking his 0-for-30 streak with a double. Positives and negatives must cancel each other out after all. Ciriaco scored to make it a five-run game, a far cry from the one-run game that Wade entered. A line out and Nick Punto single later, Wade mercifully exited the game in favor of Clay Rapada. Wade fortunately cannot be with the team tomorrow due to option logistics, and it should now be more clear than ever that he should not return to the Yankees until he's shown he can get people out again. Maybe he just needs to physically rest for a week with minimal exercise or something, but he's not capable of getting major-league hitters out right now.
Rapada and D.J. Mitchell were also shaky in relief, but they thankfully avoided runs. Mitchell did make the team's fourth error of the day on a throw from Tex that he missed though! Huzzah. The Yankees squandered a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity in the eighth, and though they added another run on an Eric Chavez homer in the ninth, they never truly got back into the game after the back-breaking seventh inning. It was brutal to watch; be fortunate if you missed it.
The Yankees look to head into the All-Star Break with a series victory tomorrow as Ivan Nova takes on Boston ace Jon Lester on Sunday Night Baseball.
PS- "Southpaw-hitting specialist" McDonald is now hitless and has a fielding miscue on his record. He'll probably need a good game against Lester tomorrow to avoid his second DFA of the month once CC Sabathia comes off the DL.
Comment of the Game: Yankees199, with an update on Andruw's moon shot.