NEW YORK — It took until the sixth inning Friday night, but the Boston Red Sox’s bats finally woke up.
The Red Sox’s offense has struggled this season, and Thursday’s series opener against the New York Yankees was no different, as Boston produced just one run on four hits in a 4-1 loss. The Red Sox scored four runs in the sixth inning the next day, though, and came away from the second game of the series with a 4-2 win.
John Lackey and Hiroki Kuroda will battle in a Saturday matinee at Yankee Stadium. Let’s first examine what happened at the yard Friday.
— Jon Lester was solid for the third consecutive start. He gave up just two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, and he struck out six, walked two and threw 113 pitches (71 strikes).
Lester retired the first two hitters he faced in the seventh inning, but the next two hitters reached base, prompting Red Sox manager John Farrell to make a pitching change. All in all, it was a good day at the office for Lester.
“I had some grinds in there throughout the game. That’s the Yankees,” Lester said. “They’re going to grind away at you and make you throw a bunch of pitches. Overall, none of that really matters. We won the game (and) at the end, that’s all that matters.”
Lester has pitched at least six innings, struck out six and allowed two or fewer runs in each of his first three starts. The last Red Sox pitcher to accomplish that feat in his first three starts of the season was Pedro Martinez in 2001 — he did it in his first seven starts.
— Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia went toe to toe with Lester for much of the night.
The only issue Sabathia had in his seven-inning effort was the sixth inning, when the Red Sox produced four runs on four hits. Sabathia didn’t allow a run and surrendered just two hits over his other six innings of work.
Sabathia, who now has 1,017 career strikeouts with the Yankees, passed Roger Clemens and moved into 11th place on the franchise’s all-time strikeouts list.
— Jonny Gomes and Grady Sizemore went deep in the sixth. Gomes led off with a solo blast, and Sizemore added a three-run shot.
— Derek Jeter led off for the Yankees for the first time since 2012. He went 1-for-4.
— Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa recorded the final out of the seventh inning and worked a scoreless eighth. He hasn’t allowed a run in his first six appearances this season.
— The Red Sox called upon Edward Mujica to pitch the ninth inning because Koji Uehara was unavailable due to shoulder tightness. Uehara isn’t sure if he’ll require a disabled list stint, but he said he hopes to return as soon as possible.
— Mujica pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his first save with the Red Sox.
Mujica struggled last weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers, giving up four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning last Friday while suffering the loss. The right-hander was much more in control this time around.
“In the outing against Milwaukee, I was a little bit excited — first game in Fenway in Boston,” Mujica said. “I think I put myself into a different situation (this time). Just calmed down a little bit and took a deep breath, and (I was) ready to go.”
Farrell confirmed Mujica will be the Red Sox’s closer in Uehara’s absence.