The Yankees entered the weekend series at Fenway Park hoping to finally earn a win against the Red Sox, but when Joe Girardi made a slow stroll to the mound in the fifth, it seemed like another loss to Boston was inevitable. With the bases loaded and Adrian Gonzalez coming to the plate, Girardi decided to lift Bartolo Colon and bring in the much maligned Boone Logan. The entire Yankees’ Universe held its breath, but three pitches later, it was time to exhale. After getting ahead with a fastball, Logan induced the MVP front runner into swinging through two sliders. The crisis was averted and the Yankees lived to fight another inning.
Perhaps inspired byLogan’s heroics, the Yankees immediately went on the attack against Jon Lester, who entered the sixth inning having allowed only two walks and two hits. Four batters into the inning, however, the Yankees not only had a run, but a bases loaded threat of their own. With the game in the balance, Lester and Robinson Cano engaged in a classic confrontation, and on the ninth pitch, the Red Sox lefty got the double play he needed. Despite tying the game, Cano’s twin killing was a big let down, but before the disappointment could sink in, Nick Swisher lined an RBI double down the left field line that put the Yankees on top 3-2
Over the final four innings of the game, five Yankees’ relievers combined to shutdown the Boston lineup on only two hits. Included in the effort was a clean frame from Rafael Soriano, the third 1-2-3 inning recorded by the enigmatic reliever since returning from the disabled list. How significant was Soriano’s seventh inning performance? Before retiring the Red Sox in order, the right hander had only registered one clean frame in a game in which the Yankees didn’t have a 10-run lead…and it came on Opening Day.
Although the bullpen’s well rounded contribution was certainly a positive, the Yankees were probably hoping they wouldn’t have to use so much of it. Having C.C. Sabathia on the mound tomorrow mitigates some of the concern about a having a depleted relief corps, but the bigger disappointment revolves around Colon. Come October, the Yankees will need the rejuvenated right hander to pull his weight, but after tonight’s abbreviated start against Boston, the lingering questions about his playoff viability will likely persist.
Because both teams enjoy a comfortable lead over the other American League wild card contenders, the focus of this weekend series has been more about determining if the Yankees can beat the Red Sox than who will win the division. By drawing first blood, the Yankees made progress toward both ends, but messages aren’t sent in one game. That’s what the next eight are for.