NEW YORK — Grady Sizemore officially introduced himself to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry Friday night.
Sizemore launched a three-run homer in the sixth inning as the Red Sox earned a 4-2 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Sizemore finished the game with two hits — raising his batting average to .333 — and provided Boston with a much-needed offensive spark one day after the Sox produced just four hits in the series opener.
“I think we’ve been impressed with the timing,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Sizemore’s hot start to the season. “We saw it week-by-week in spring training that the power was starting to come a little bit more and the ball was getting off the bat a little bit more consistently, and it’s continued here in the first two weeks of the season.”
Friday’s homer was Sizemore’s second of the season. The 31-year-old outfielder upped his on-base percentage to .394 with his two-hit effort, and he’s looking more and more like the player who earned three consecutive All-Star selections from 2006 through 2008.
“It’s great to see him back,” said Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, who lasted 6 2/3 innings Friday while earning the win. “We all know what he did early in his career. Long road back for him. I think obviously everybody in this clubhouse (and) everybody in baseball is glad to see him back playing again and healthy.”
Sizemore’s spring was all about clearing the physical hurdles that come with not appearing in a major league game since 2011. He not only cleared those hurdles with ease, but it took him 11 regular-season games — he played in nine — to really leave his mark on the 2014 season.
It took Sizemore just two games against the Yankees to leave his mark on baseball’s biggest rivalry.
“It’s not another game,” Sizemore said. “I think since you’re a kid you kind of grow up (watching) Yankees-Red Sox, so you know what it’s about. You know how intense it is. Any time you come to Yankee Stadium, it’s a different atmosphere, and with the Red Sox, it’s even more intense. Just use that to your advantage, try to have some fun and go play.”
Sizemore, who started in left field and batted fifth, certainly had some fun Friday. No moment was bigger than when he went deep against CC Sabathia — whom he played with in Cleveland — to cap a four-run sixth inning.
“I think it was just good to have a rally there in that (sixth) inning,” Sizemore said. “We’ve kind of struggled with Jon on the mound. It’s nice to pick him up and get some runs for him and give him some support. We really just did a good job of kind of creating a rally when we needed it.”
Sizemore said he isn’t looking to jack the ball out of the ballpark and instead has been focused on just hitting it hard. He’s beginning to do that even more regularly as he gets his legs under him, which could be bad news for those in pinstripes.
“It’s a different atmosphere. It’s definitely a different animal,” Sizemore said of suiting up for the Red Sox against the Yankees. “It’s a big rivalry. There’s nothing like it.”
Welcome to the rivalry, Grady.