NEW YORK — Mike Napoli didn’t want to let a good pitching performance go to waste.
Napoli launched a solo home run off Masahiro Tanaka with two outs in the top of the ninth inning Saturday to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Jon Lester earned the victory in what was a well-pitched game on both sides.
The day started with Mookie Betts joining the Red Sox in New York following his first major league call-up. It ended with Boston’s third victory in nine games.
Let’s go over what happened in between.
– Lester needed to be an ace. He was that and more.
Lester allowed just one unearned run over eight innings. He gave up five hits, struck out six and walked two while throwing 118 pitches (74 strikes) to earn his ninth win of the season.
New York scored its only run in the third inning after Stephen Drew committed an error to begin the frame. Lester made some big pitches in key spots to minimize the damage and ultimately give the Red Sox a chance to pull off a dramatic win.
– Lester’s battery mate, David Ross, was right in the thick of Boston’s win.
Ross drilled his fourth home run, made an impact defensively and once again worked beautifully in conjunction with Lester. Everything the Red Sox love about the 37-year-old catcher was on display.
Ross’ defensive highlight came in the sixth inning after Brett Gardner led off with a single into center field. Gardner attempted to steal with Derek Jeter batting, but Ross had other plans. The veteran backstop turned back the clock with an exceptional throw to second base.
“That’s probably as good as I’ve felt all year getting rid of the ball,” Ross said. “That’s how I used to throw when I was a young buck, and it was nice to feel that again.”
– Tanaka was excellent for the Yankees. He went the distance while allowing just two runs on seven hits.
Tanaka made a huge mistake to Napoli in the ninth inning, though, and it was the difference in the game.
Tanaka shook off catcher Brian McCann twice before throwing a 1-2 fastball that Napoli dropped over the right field fence. It really didn’t make any sense to throw Napoli a fastball with two strikes and Drew standing on deck — especially when you consider Napoli had struck out twice earlier in the game.
Tanaka said he shook off a slider and a splitter from McCann before turning to the fastball.
It’s worth noting that Napoli’s home run, which landed in the first row, probably wouldn’t have left any other ballpark.
– Dustin Pedroia played his tail off.
Pedroia looked to stretch a hit into a double in the sixth inning. He used an aggressive, swim move dive in the process and was called safe before the Yankees successfully challenged the play. Still, it was a tremendous display of hustle that was viewed favorably by his skipper.
“We’re all for it. That’s what we preach to guys (even) if they get thrown out on a smart, aggressive play. He gets a pat on the back,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “ … We’ll take that opportunity every time it’s offered to us.”
Pedroia also started a key double play in the eighth inning with a diving stop and a backhanded flip out of his glove.
– Koji Uehara set down the Yankees in order in the ninth inning.
– Betts will be in Sunday’s starting lineup, according to Farrell.
– Mike Carp played in his second rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket. He served as the designated hitter for six innings and went 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored.
Carp, who is coming back from a fractured foot, is expected to play at least five or six rehab games before being reevaluated.