Yankees 13-6, FINAL: Don't despair, folks. The Patriots open the preseason next week.
End 8th, 13-4: Michael Bowden pitched Wednesday night for Pawtucket, meaning he would be available to take Smoltz's turn in the rotation Tuesday night in Fenway Park. Expect the Red Sox to release Smoltz as early as Friday and bring in another re-inforcement before handing the ball to Bowden next week.
Mid 8th, Yankees 13-4: Maybe something good will come from all of this (besides releasing Smoltz). Marc Melancon went head-hunting against Dustin Pedroia, buzzing him once and drilling him on the shoulder with another. Hopefully, that will light a fire under the Red Sox going into Friday's game. Warning were issued tonight, and it will be interesting to see if Josh Beckett retaliates tomorrow.
End 7th, Yankees 13-4: This one wouldn't be complete without Mark Teixeira reminding Theo Epstein and John Henry what might have been. Teixeira's homer to right gives the Yankees at least one run in each inning since the third.
Mid 7th, Yankees 12-4: The Yankees have issued 10 walks tonight. How many have come around to score? One. And the LOB is up to 12. Pathetic.
End 6th, Yankees 12-4: It's come to this: The Yankees are taking pity on the Red Sox by running into outs. Derek Jeter singles home the 12th run, giving all nine starters at least one hit, but gets himself thrown out trying to take second when he really didn't need to. At this point, the Red Sox will take it.
Mid 6th, Yankees 11-4: Obviously, when you allow 11 runs in five innings, pitching is prime suspect No. 1 in this episode of CSI: Bronx. But let's not discount the culpability of the offense. In all six innings of this game, the Red Sox have had two men on with less than two outs and managed to score all of three runs, two coming on Kotchman's homer. Now that's criminal.
End 5th, Yankees 11-4: Maybe the final score will be 19-8. Then the Red Sox will go on an eight-game winning streak. It's happened before …
Mid 5th, Yankees 9-4: Joba walks the ballpark and allows a one-out RBI single to Lowell. In April or May, when the Red Sox dominated the Yankees, it would have turned into a big-time rally. Not now. Kotchman and Green strike out. The Red Sox have left eight runners on base, five in scoring position, all reaching with less than two out.
9:14 p.m.: Jed Lowrie left with an irritated forearm. He's not the only one irritated tonight. Nyuk, nyuk.
End 4th, Yankees 9-3: We may well remember that half-inning as the moment the Red Sox were mathematically eliminated from the AL East race.
The Yankees go for eight runs on eight hits and probably knocked Smoltz into retirement. Sure, it's just one game, and this is probably an egregious over-reaction on my part, but this week feels an awful lot like that other August nosedive in 2006. The vaunted pitching depth no longer exists and the position players are dropping like flies. Not good.
9 p.m.: Make it 9-3. Billy Traber gives up a three-run rocket to Posada. Nice job, Smoltz. Please go away.
8:52 p.m.: Finally, Terry Francona gets Smoltz out of there. It's 5-3, the bases are loaded and one out. Smoltz allows 13 of 22 batters faced to reach. If he throws another pitch in a Red Sox uniform, there should be an official investigation.
8:43 p.m.: The Red Sox may well have signed John Smoltz to help in October, but there isn't going to be an October if they keep giving him the ball. The Yankees have finally opened the floodgates with four runs without an out in the fourth, the latter three scoring on a Melky Cabrera moon-shot to right, to take a 5-3 lead.
8:35 p.m.: Nick Green has replaced Jed Lowrie at shortstop to start the bottom of the fourth. Presumably, it's injury-related, although it should be noted that Lowrie looked like he'd never played organized baseball before in striking out twice tonight.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-1: For the third straight inning, the Red Sox get the first two men on base. This time, they cash in on Kotchman's homer. Joba is already at 81 pitches through four innings.
8:25 p.m.: Hello Casey Kotchman! The reserve first baseman joins Red Sox-Yankees lore with a two-run homer off Chamberlain in the fourth to give the Red Sox a 3-1 lead.
End 3rd, 1-1: John Smoltz is lucky to be alive after the Yankees hit four consecutive bombs off him in the third. Only one, by Johnny Damon to right, leaves the park, but that was a fireworks display against the future Hall-of-Famer.
Derek Jeter opened the inning with a drive to center that Ellsbury caught up against the wall, banging his shoulder hard but staying in the game. Damon then hit his 20th homer of the season before Teixeira one-hopped the wall with a booming double to left-center. A-Rod followed that with a loud out to left before Hideki Matsui strikes out.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: It's either solo homers or nothing for the Red Sox this week. After Pedroia's homer, Joba walks Martinez and Youkilis with nobody out. But for the third straight inning, no runs. Ortiz was the main culprit with a 4-6-3 double play before Drew flies out.
8:05 p.m.: Pedroia doesn't wait for a teammate to drive him in — he does it himself, leading off the third with a homer to right, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. Nick Swisher made a bid, but the ball snuck over the fence for a patented "new Stadium" homer.
End 2nd, 0-0: Smoltz allows two singles and a walk in the second, but thanks to some really bad baserunning by Jorge Posada, we're still scoreless.
Posada was on second with one out when Nick Swisher singled to center. The Yankees waved Posada around, but the lumbering catcher never slid, even as Pedroia's relay throw reached home at the same time. Martinez easily tagged the still-upright Posada, and Smoltz was on his way to escaping a dangerous inning.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: The Red Sox are already off to an ominous start, stranding two more runners in the second inning. This time, they had first and second with nobody out, after J.D. Drew led off with a double and Mike Lowell walked. But Joba recovers again, striking out Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury to end the inning.
End 1st, 0-0: The John Smoltz the Red Sox have been waiting for showed up in the first inning tonight. Smoltz effectively mixed his off-speed stuff with a well-located fastball, striking out two in the inning while allowing just a two-out walk to Mark Teixeira. Smoltz threw a series of breaking pitches to Alex Rodriguez before freezing A-Rod with a fastball for a called strike three. The only downside was the pitch count: 24.
Mid 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox threatened in the first, but unlike the May outing, Chamberlain puts out the fire — after a rare visit from manager Joe Girardi after allowing a double to Dustin Pedroia and walking Victor Martinez. Bypassing the pitching coach, Girardi gets his point across as Youkilis flies out to left and Ortiz, who didn't seem to get booed any louder than he normally does in New York, flied out to right.
7:10 p.m.: It seems unlikely that Joba Chamberlain will do any head-hunting tonight, but that's the least of Red Sox concerns. Joba dominated Tampa Bay his last time out, throwing eight shutout innings, and he is a much better pitcher than the last time the Sox faced him in New York back in May, going 3-0 with an 0.83 ERA in his past three starts.
6:20 p.m.: We weren't kidding when we said the Red Sox limped into New York today. Not only is Jason Bay not likely to play in this series, Rocco Baldelli was placed on the 15-day disabled list today with a bruised foot, after fouling a ball off his foot/ankle during batting practice Wednesday night at the Trop.
That means the Red Sox, who are playing like it's 2006, are going back to a 2006 stop-gap solution, playing Kevin Youkilis in left field. When Trot Nixon went down on July 31 in 2006 and Manny Ramirez was injured/tanked it in late August, Youkilis wound up playing 18 games in left. He hasn't been in the outfield since. Casey Kotchman makes his Red Sox debut at first base, batting eighth. The other lineup intrigue has Victor Martinez catching and Jason Varitek riding the bench.
2:30 p.m.: Will the real John Smoltz please stand up? Pretty please? The Red Sox start their most significant series of 2009 tonight at Yankee Stadium — the first of 10 games against the Yankees over the final 56.
The Red Sox limped — quite literally — into New York early this morning, having lost twice to the Rays in demoralizing fashion and having slipped 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. Now, they run into a red-hot Yankees team determined to reverse the trend that has seen the Red Sox win the first eight meetings of 2009.
The Red Sox face Joba Chamberlain tonight, and they will do it without Jason Bay, who re-aggravated his hamstring Wednesday night and might not be available for any of the four games. After dragging the Orioles pitching staff all over Camden Yards last weekend, the Red Sox offense cooled considerably in St. Petersburg. The Sox scored four times in the first inning against Joba at the Stadium in early May, but Bay was the catalyst with a home run. This is a series in which the Victor Martinez trade could make a huge difference for the Red Sox.
On the other side, the Red Sox are praying their investment in Smoltz finally pays off. The future Hall of Famer has struggled mightily this summer. There is a sense that the big stage might bring out the best in Smoltz, but that may be wishful thinking. A 7.12 ERA so far in '09 suggests otherwise. If Smoltz does come up big, the Red Sox could change the momentum in the division in a hurry, with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester to come over the next three games. If not, the Yankees could put tremendous pressure on the Red Sox just to earn a split, with CC Sabathia seemingly a "can't miss" against Clay Buchholz on Saturday.