Yankees pester Lester, win, 9-3

The New York Yankees did not take long to mess up Jon Lester‘s game plan. The team scored two runs off of the Red Sox hurler before anyone was out in the first inning. The Yankees scored two more in the third and put the game away in the fifth with four more. Masahiro Tanaka pitched very well again besides back-to-back solo homers by David Ortiz and Mike Napoli in fourth. Tanaka went 7.1 innings, gave up seven hits and no walks and struck out seven to earn his third win. Lester dropped to 2-3.

Jacoby Ellsbury heard some boos as he led off the top of the first and then looked bad on two straight fastballs by Lester to start his first at bat. But Lester did not get away with a third fast ball and Ellsbury hit it high off the wall in straight-away center. A fan interfered with the ball but Ellsbury was still awarded third base on the play. Derek Jeter followed quickly on a first-pitch fastball for a single to drive in Ellsbury.

Jeter then took off for second on a pitch to Carlos Beltran that was in the dirt and when A.J. Pierzynski threw the ball away, Jeter went to third. Beltran hit a single to drive in Jeter. Lester then seemed to regain himself and got out of the inning without further damage.

The Yankees had Lester on the ropes again in the second as Lester’s pitch count was mounting. They loaded the bases with one out but Carlos Beltran hit into a double-play to end that threat.

But Lester did not escape in the third. Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann hit back-to-back-to-back doubles to plate two more runs. The Yankees loaded the bases again with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury smashed a hard grounder up the middle, but Dustin Pedroia played it beautifully and stepped on second and threw Ellsbury out at first for another double-play.

After the play, Pedroia gestured toward Ellsbury, his old friend, and both had a good laugh.

But Lester wasn’t laughing. He was irritated most of the night with the home plate umpire. His night of misery continued in the top of the fifth, an inning he would not survive. It was bad timing for the Red Sox because they had climbed back into the game the half inning before on the two homers to make it a 4-2 game.

Mark Teixeira started the top of the fifth with a walk. McCann then hit a ball off the wall but it was hit too hard and it ended up a single with Teixeira only on second. Lester struck out the next two batters and it seemed he might get out of the jam again. Brian Roberts came up and was already two for two in the game and hit his third hard hit ball–a line drive to the opposite field. It was hit really hard and must have knuckled because Mike Napoli could not come up with it and it hit off his glove and into right field. Teixeira scored.

The hometown official scorer protected Lester though and called it an error. Roberts should have been given credit for his third hit and an RBI.

Jacoby Ellsbury then doubled to score both McCann and Roberts and Lester was done for the night after 4.2 innings, 116 pitches, eleven hits and four walks. He gave up eight runs, but with the official scorer taking care of him, he was only charged with three earned runs.

John Farrell brought in Chris Capuano and Jeter greeted him with a single that scored Ellsbury. Capuano shut the door after that for two and a third innings and continued his really good relief work this season for the Red Sox. The Yankees tacked on one more run on a big fly to right by Carlos Beltran off of Edward Mujica. The homer was Beltran’s fifth of the season.

Dellin Betances relieved Tanaka with one out in the eighth and struck out the two batters he faced. But he gave up two wall balls in the ninth for a junk run. Even so, Betances’ ERA is 0.98 and his WHIP is 0.98. Tanaka is now a perfect 3-0 for the Yankees and his ERA sits at 2.15.

Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian Roberts and Ichiro Suzuki all had two hits and Brian McCann had three. The only Yankee who did not join the party was Yangervis Solarte who went without a hit in five plate appearances with three strikeouts. His average is down to .303. But Solarte did make three really good plays at third base in the game. Jacoby Ellsbury also had a great play in center with a tumbling catch to rob Grady Sizemore in the bottom of the first.

The two teams will do it all again tomorrow night as Michael Pineda will face John Lackey. The Red Sox might get Shane Victorino back in the lineup after missing the entire season to this point.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.