The Yankees returned from their successful road trip to once again face their old nemesis, the Boston Red Sox. And boy, was tonight a good night to be a Yankees fan. Masahiro Tanaka, definitively the ace of the staff with Michael Pineda sidelined until September, faced off in the Bronx tonight against Henry Owens. Owens was a first round pick in 2011, and has been one of the Red Sox top prospects over the last couple seasons, cracking the top five in both MLB's Red Sox rankings and Minor League Ball's preseason Red Sox rankings. Needless to say, the Red Sox have high hopes for Owens.
For most of the game, Owens displayed just why they're so high on him. He got off to a great start, striking out Jacoby Ellsbury to begin his first major league game. Not a bad way to debut. From there, though, the first inning did not quite go Owens way (although it could have gone a lot worse). Chris Young quickly got on with a single through the left side, Alex Rodriguez worked a walk, and then Mark Teixeira grounded a single up the middle. Just like that, the Yankees had a one run lead, although Owens did a great job to limit the damage to only that solitary run.
Tanaka dominated in the beginning of the game,, giving up just one hit over the first four innings. In the fifth, though, he ran into trouble. After Mike Napoli smoked a one-out double into the left field corner, Alejandro De Aza laid down a bunt along the third base line that proved trouble for the Yankees. Both Chase Headley and Tanaka went for the ball, and as they tried to make the play, they collided, leaving both runners safe with still only one out. Blake Swihart promptly singled to center, scoring Napoli and moving De Aza to third. The ensuing batter, Jackie Bradley Jr., then flew out to deep left field to score De Aza, giving the Red Sox their first lead of the game.
The lead didn't last long, though, as the Yankees offense began clicking in the bottom of the sixth and would not look back. Young singled to left to lead off, and Alex Rodriguez just missed a home run, doubling off the left-center wall. Young was held at third, though, so the Yankees still had work to do to tie the game. Rodriguez's double knocked Owens out of the game, and the Red Sox turned to Robbie Ross Jr. to preserve the lead. Yeah, that didn't happen. Teixeira immediately singled, tying the game, and Brian McCann drove the first pitch he saw to right center, scoring Rodriguez. The Yankees tacked on one more when Carlos Beltran grounded out to third, scoring Teixeira and giving the Yankees a two-run lead.
The Yankees bats truly came alive in the seventh, though. After Pablo Sandoval hit a towering homer to cut the lead back to one in the top of the inning, the Yankees blew the game open in their half of the frame against new pitcher Jean Machi. Ellsbury reached on an error, then Young reached on a walk, and then Rodriguez singled up the middle to score Ellsbury and knock Machi out of the game. Craig Breslow came in, and quickly learned it wasn't his night. The first batter he faced was Brian McCann, and McCann absolutely crushed a pitch into the upper deck out in right field. But the Yankees, who have been on a tear offensively lately, still weren't done: Beltran doubled, Headley doubled (scoring Beltran), and a couple batters later, Ellsbury singled to score Headley. Breslow was finally pulled, but on the first pitch he saw from Alexi Ogando, Chris Young lined a homer out to left, and just like that, it was 13-3 Yankees. Games like this are fun.
With the game blown open, the Yankees turned to Branden Pinder and Nick Rumbelow to finish off the Red Sox, who went down without much of a fight. What was a nail-biting affair for much of the game became a rout by the end, although Owens certainly displayed why the Red Sox have been so high on him. He's got a solid fastball and a nice curve, and should be a good middle of the rotation arm at the major league level. Tonight's loss isn't really on him, and the score definitely makes it look worse than it was. But I'm not complaining.
It's nice to have the Bronx Bombers back.