Games at Fenway are never easy for the Yankees, which make wins ridiculously rewarding and losses ever so much more painful. Even when one team was just awful and the other team was just rocking their season, Boston-New York games are always the most stressful. Tonight was no exception. (Are we still allowed to blame the Babe Ruth trade for this? Or did that “curse” thing break off into a friendly rivalry in 2004?)
Starting pitcher Andy Pettitte had some trouble early in his game, allowing a solo homer and 2-run home run in the first two innings, respectively, to put Boston up 3-0 very quickly. By his exit during the 7th inning, Pettitte hit his 95 pitch mark giving up 6 hits and struck out 4 batters, holding the Red Sox to those 3 initial runs. But Kelley and Logan combined to close out this inning, allowing one of Pettitte’s hits to score in the process, which allowed the Red Sox a total of 4 runs scored for the game total. Claiborne kept Boston planted there for his inning, but the damage had been done, and there was not much offense to overcome Boston’s early lead.
This game was off in many ways, as it’s usually the middle of the game that’s the time that lags. But tonight, it was the middle of the game that was the most entertaining. In the 4th inning, Brett Gardner walks, and then steals 2nd base while Robinson Cano is batting. No big surprise there. But when Gardner went for 3rd, the Boston catcher totally missed the throw to 3rd, shooting the ball into left field, so Gardner easily jogged home to score the first Yankee run of the evening. Then the 5th inning, Lyle Overbay doubles and then Chris Stewart doubles and scores Overbay, the 2nd and final run the Yankees scored this evening. Final score 4-2 Red Sox.
And then, things got weirder. Gardner gets called out on strikes, but thinking it’s a low ball (it was), gets angry with himself and spikes his helmet. The umpire sees this as a personal offense and decides to eject Gardner, who looks at him and apologizes, but it’s took late. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a Brett Gardner ejection. I’m thinking this threw everyone off because Girardi came out to argue some in Gardner’s defense, and Gardner later apologized publicly for his unusual outburst. The last time Gardner was ejected was 3 years ago, almost to the day, and by the same umpire. (Personal note here: I’ve seen people not thrown out for way worse temper tantrums, and perhaps the less drastic thing would have been to let him walk it off between innings. I mean, this is Gardner here, not some regular hotheaded diva. Just saying…)
I’m telling you right now, the Green Monster does weird things to the Yankees. Does anyone else remember the series last year where Andruw Jones’ slump was non-existent and he played one of the best games since his days with the Braves? And in that same series, the Yankees were behind 9-0 and came back to win the game 15-9. Or when they have the best season of the decade and still get swept by the B-squad Red Sox? Fenway’s not called the “Green Monster” for nothing; it does weird stuff there. I’m just glad I’m not superstitious, or we’d really have some problems.
Anyway, injury news (Girardi’s personal take on the update here):
Derek Jeter was placed on the 15-day DL, forcing him to rest his Grade I quad strain at least until next Saturday (they back dated the DL to July 12, the day after he last played), but he was there in Boston with his team and worked out during BP. Cashman is fully aware that Jeter may not be ready to play next weekend, and Cashman is also fully aware that Jeter may not agree with him on that.
Alex Rodriguez is finally hitting his stride in the minor leagues during his rehab assignments, and the current assumption is that he will rejoin the team on Monday. With the rate and level that he’s playing, I don’t see why they won’t reactivate him next week, but I’ve also learned not to trust the major difference between the ideal and the reality.
Adding insult to injury (so to speak), Zoilo Almonte exited the game with a sprained ankle on a hard run down to first in the 6th inning. X-rays showed no break (they’re being very thorough any more with all these injuries), but sprained ankles are never fun to deal with and take a couple of weeks to fully heal, depending on the severity of the injury. Time on the DL for Almonte is coming and will be determined on an update before tomorrow’s game.
Well, to adjust for Jeter’s DL stint, the Yankees called up Brent Lillibridge from AAA Scranton, who has proven his versatility there, and started at 3rd base tonight. To make room, they released Brennan Boesch unconditionally, meaning he is now a free agent. Boesch has been plagued with injuries himself recently and hasn’t been able to contribute as much as the Yankees liked. But with health on his side, Boesch could see some playing time elsewhere. Unfortunately, the Yankees have a plethora of outfielders. It’s the infielders they can’t seem to keep healthy or find strong replacements.
I will say the nicest part about tonight’s game came early on when the Red Sox played “New York, New York” as a tribute for New York’s support during the dark days surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings. It was met with cheers and singing and camaraderie, something most of us aren’t used to seeing at a Yankees-Red Sox game, but something that brings back memories of kinship formed after 9/11. It’s times like that, with tributes like that, serving as reminders that rivalries are always transcended by the tenacity of the human spirit and the bond that deep down, we’re all just American baseball fans. Some of us may be wrapped in Yankee blue and others in Red Sox red, but still the American pastime is at our core and the humanity and compassion transcends any rivalry, even if for but a moment between innings.