The Yankees beat the Red Sox 10-3 on Friday night, although it certainly didn’t look like a game that would end up with a stereotypical Fenway Park final score after the first three innings. Josh Beckett came out of the gate like a man possessed, firing 96-mph and 95-mph cheese while striking out five of the first six batters he faced. Phil Hughes wasn’t quite that overpowering but still matched Beckett, holding the Red Sox hitless through the first three frames.
The Yankees finally got to Beckett in the fourth, as a Mark Teixeira walk and A-Rod single set the stage for a big Nick Swisher three-run home run to dead center. Beckett settled down in the 5th, but the wheels came off in the sixth inning, as Beckett pitched one of the strangest half-innings of baseball I’ve ever seen. Rather than try to put into words what happened, I’ll let Gameday recap the action:
1) Alex Rodriguez doubles (7) on a line drive to center fielder Darnell McDonald. None out.
2) Robinson Cano hit by pitch. None out.
Offensive substitution: Pinch runner Ramiro Pena replaces Robinson Cano.
With Nick Swisher batting, passed ball by Jason Varitek, Alex Rodriguez to 3rd. Ramiro Pena to 2nd.
New York Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson left the game due to an injured wrist.
3) Nick Swisher strikes out swinging. One out.
4) Josh Beckett intentionally walks Brett Gardner. One out.
5) Francisco Cervelli walks. Alex Rodriguez scores. Ramiro Pena to 3rd. Brett Gardner to 2nd. One out.
6) Randy Winn singles on a line drive to left fielder Jeremy Hermida. Ramiro Pena scores. Brett Gardner to 3rd. Francisco Cervelli to 2nd. One out.
Coaching visit to mound
7) Derek Jeter hit by pitch. Brett Gardner scores. Francisco Cervelli to 3rd. Randy Winn to 2nd. One out.
8) Marcus Thames singles on a groundball to shortstop Marco Scutaro. Francisco Cervelli scores. Randy Winn to 3rd. Derek Jeter to 2nd.
9) Mark Teixeira singles on a sharp line drive to right fielder J.D. Drew. Randy Winn scores. Derek Jeter to 3rd. Marcus Thames to 2nd. One out.
Coaching visit to mound.
Pitching change. Hideki Okajima replaces Josh Beckett.
So. Where to begin? For starters, that has to have been the first time Brett Gardner was intentionally walked in his entire professional career. Considering Beckett just struck Nick Swisher out, I’m thinking the call to walk Gardner to load the bases may have been Beckett’s tipping point. While he may have gotten squeezed on a strike call during the sequence to Cervelli, he was nowhere near the plate with ball four and nearly beaned him. Beckett would force in another run two batters later on a hit by pitch. All told, Beckett surrendered four hits, walked two, hit two batters and gave up six runs (one was an inherited runner that Okajima let score) while only recording one out in the sixth.
One of the hit batters, Robinson Cano, had to remove himself from the game, and is apparently day-to-day. Additionally, it seems that everyone’s worst fears about Nick Johnson may come true, as The Stick was removed after experiencing soreness in his right wrist, which has apparently been bothering him for weeks, and may explain his seasonlong slump. Chris H. astutely pointed out that this appears to be similar to the injury that kept Johnson out for the bulk of the 2008 season. Johnson is apparently headed back to New York for an MRI (do they not have MRI machines in Boston? I guess they were all purchased by this guy), as the fanbase holds its breath that whatever’s ailing him isn’t going to be a long-term issue, but it doesn’t sound good.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Phil Hughes was great once again, tossing 7 innings of two-run ball with seven strikeouts. Hughes’ newfound pitch economy and aggressiveness has made him an absolute joy to watch this season, as he has consistently started batters off with strike one and seldom let them work full counts.
While he worked primarily off his fastball — which was as good as it was against Oakland, if not even faster tonight — he also dropped a few curveballs and cutters in to keep the BoSox off balance. On the postgame show Al Leiter said that Hughes was a four-pitch pitcher and that he had a slider, but I definitely didn’t see a slider and according to Fangraphs Phil hasn’t tossed one since 2008. Despite posting another quality start and yielding only two runs, Hughes’ ERA actually rose after the game, to a still-microscopic 1.69.
For fun, here are some stats from Phil Hughes’ five starts this season:
That’s a fun table to look at.
Sadly, the non-Mariano and non-Joba components of the bullpen continue to flail a bit, as a wild David Robertson gave up 1 ER in 1 IP despite being handed an 8-run lead. Boone Logan looked a bit shaky in the ninth, though he ultimately took care of business.
So the Yanks hope to extend their winning streak to six tomorrow afternoon behind CC Sabathia in the Fox Saturday Afternoon Game of Death, and I hope that the team can get through a day without yet another injury.