The Sox managed to hang on to their two run lead for most of the game thanks to a stellar performance from Felix Dubront–final line: 6.1 innings, four hits, one run, five walks, eight k’s. The youngster had good command for most of the night, and managed to tame the Yankee offense whenever they put any runners on; this, of course, may also be related to the Yankees’ recent struggles at the plate, though I tend to give credit to pitchers in these circumstances.
Hiroki Kuroda matched Dubront pitch for pitch after the second inning: the veteran’s fastball was touching 94-95 MPH, while his slider was sharp, and his two-seamer was diving down. In fact, he should have probably only conceded one run in the second inning, as Andruw Jones–showing off all the reasons that the bombers desperately need Brett Gardner (or at least Ichiro!) in left–took a terrible route to Sweeney’s line drive. The ball bounced past Jones, who adjusted too late, and on to the wall, allowing Saltalamacchia to score from first; you have to imagine that Gardner–and Suzuki–would have been able to cut the ball off and hold the Boston catcher at third.
So, as the rivals entered the last few innings, it looked like Boston would escape with a tough, hotly-contested series win: closer Alfredo Aceves was trotting in to face the struggling Russell Martin with slow-running Andrew Jones on second and two outs in the bottom of the eighth. But Martin lined the first pitch he saw into center field, and Jones, showing off the grace and poise that he desperately needed in the second inning, sprinted towards home plate; Jacoby Ellsbury, who seemed shocked that the Yankees would send Jones at that point, couldn’t come up with a good throw to home. It was tied heading into the ninth.
But that would be pretty much it for the bombers. Aceves settled down to pitch two more innings, setting down the (miserable) top of the Yankee order, while the Sox jumped all over David Robertson in the tenth. Just like last night, Pedro Ciriaco came up huge, blooping the game-winning single into right field, scoring Saltalamacchia (who D-Rob had walked to begin the inning).
3-2. And that would be all.
- The Yankee bullpen, which was so strong earlier in the year, is beginning to look fragile. Yesterday, it was Soriano who blew the save; today, it was Robertson who couldn’t keep things together. It’s getting to the point where people are desperately waiting for Joba Chamberlain to come back. Let that sink in.
- Ciriaco didn’t just do it with the bat in a big spot: he also robbed Andruw Jones of a surefire hit, leaping to his right to scoop up a tough grounder in the second. Great defensive play from the career minor leaguer (who is now completely unwelcome in New York, if he ever decides to come back).
- I can’t believe that Russell Martin was going to be the main story tonight. If the Yankees had managed to rally, he would have been the main reason why. At the very least, it’s encouraging to see him get any hits, much less a home run and an RBI single.
- The pitchers were really good.
- Raul Ibanez’s epic nine-pitch at-bat to end the game was fun to watch…it was a lot less fun when he struck out. Still, he has exceeded my expectations for him on the year, so that’s good.
- HUGE Bronx cheer to the top of the Yankee order, who were a combined 1-for-19 tonight. Awful from Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira and Cano.
- Swisher, on the other hand, was 2-for-4.