There was a pitcher’s duel between Hiroki Kuroda and Felix Doubront on Sunday night baseball in the Bronx. Ryan Sweeney doubled home a pair of runs in the second inning. Otherwise, both starting pitchers piled up the outs and the score remained 2-0 Boston. The ground ball was Kuroda’s friend and he got four double plays to keep his team in the game.
In the seventh, Russell Martin got the Yankees on the board when he hit a lead off home run. Ichiro reached on an infield hit and though Jason Nix couldn’t push him into scoring position (fail, as he whiffed) but was the last batter Doubront would face. Matt Albers replaced him to pitch to Derek Jeter and after a throw to first Ichiro took off for second on the first pitch Albers threw. And he was safe by plenty.
Jeter slapped a sharp base hit to right field too hard to score Ichi. Runners on the corners and the lefty Andrew Miller replaced Albers and got Curtis Granderson to pop up to shallow left on one pitch. Fail and boy, this has been a rough couple of games for Granderson. Mark Teixeira jumped at Miller’s first pitch too (fail) and grounded out weakly to second. Dustin Pedroia bobbled the ball for a moment but still made the play without incident.
Two pitches, two out: so much for patience.
Kuroda worked a one-two-three ninth, surviving a bullet line drive off Jacoby Ellsbury’s bat that landed safely in Teixeria’s glove for the third out.
Cano grounded out to third to start the bottom of the inning. It was a close play at first but the ump got the call right. Nick Swisher, two hits on the night, was next and got ahead 2-0 and then 3-1 but looked at a beautiful 3-2 curve ball right over the plate for strike three. Andruw Jones cranked a 2-2 fastball–don’t throw him a heater ,willya, hah?–into the left field corner for a double and the Yanks were still alive. That was it for Miller. Showtime for Alfredo Aceves. His first pitch to Martin was a fastball right down the cock. Martin drilled it into centerfield for a base hit, Jones scored, tie game.
Ichi took a curve for a strike. A wild pitch, Martin to second. His first big moment? Nah, not so fast. A line drive to Carl Crawford ended the inning.
The ninth. Soriano, and am I the only one worried? Well, the sombitch hit Crawford in the foot with the second pitch he threw. Dustin Pedroia flew out to center and then Adrian Gonzalez popped out to Jeter. The ball wasn’t far behind third base and Jeter, shifted close to second, had a long way to run to make the play. This after Crawford got caught leaning and narrowly avoided being picked off. Cody Ross, who never gets cheated on his swing, took a big hack, and a few more throws over to first by Soriano, Ross squibbed one off the end of his bat. It rolled down to Teixeira who fielded it and recorded the third out.
What, me worry?
Eric Chavez, pinch-hitting, led off the bottom of the inning, worked the count full and then swung under a high fastball. Jeter hit grounded out to Will Middlebrooks and Aceves stayed in to pitch to Granderson. Curtis was 0-8 lifetime against Aceves with five strikeouts. Make that 0-9 when Grandy got under a fastball and flew out to right. The game headed to extra innings.
So David Robertson walked Salty to start the tenth and then Middlebrooks was hit on a failed bunt attempt. The umpire ruled that he didn’t attempt to get the bat out of the way. Bobby Valentine didn’t like the call and he was thrown out of the game. Josh Beckett bitched and bellowed from the dugout and he was run, too. Course Middlebrooks singled to left. First and second, no out. Sweeney couldn’t get a bunt down and hit into a 4-6 force. Too slow for a double play. Runners on the corners with one out.
You know I was praying for another double play. But with the speedy Pedro Ciriaco at the plate, man, that was a tall order. So the string bean bloops a single into short right field and the Sox were ahead. It was a good pitch by Robertson, a shitty hit by Ciriaco and I could hear ol’ John Sterling say, “You know, Suzyn, you can’t predict baseball.”
Naturally, Ellsbury hit into that tailor-made double play to end the inning.
Teixeira popped a ball into the right field seats and the fans did a terrible job letting Sweeney catch the ball. They would have had to jump to disrupt Sweeney from reaching into the stands and making the play, it would have been a tough play, but dammit, it could have been made.
Robbie Cano didn’t go up there looking to do anything but swing and swing he did at the first four pitches. The at bat ended in a little ground out to Pedroia. Swisher got plunked in the elbow with a breaking ball and Ramiro Pena replaced him as a pinch-runner. Ibanez for Jones. And it was a good at bat. Fastball after fastball and finally on the ninth pitch a breaking ball swung on and missed.
Final Score: Red Sox 3, Yanks 2.
A big game for the Sox who get back to .500. A vexing loss for the Yanks who’ve had a week to forget. Just ugly.
[Photo Credit: Past Tense; Joram Roukes]