The Yankees completely silenced the Red Sox' bats for the second consecutive game on Saturday afternoon, making it 24 straight scoreless innings for a Boston team in desperate need of a jolt at the plate. CC Sabathia took a perfect game into the fifth and a no-hitter into the sixth, and the Yankees cruised to a 5-0 victory over the Red Sox.
Clay Buchholz was strong on the mound but still struggled at times with his control, leaving after six innings when his pitch count got dangerously high. The Red Sox' bullpen was problematic in relief of Buchholz — Ramon Ramirez was quickly ejected for plunking Alex Rodriguez, and Enrique Gonzalez gave up a two-run homer to Derek Jeter.
The Yankees earned their sixth straight win, while the Red Sox lost their fifth straight. New York now has a 5.5-game stranglehold on first place in the AL East, leaving Boston beginning to think about settling for a wild card berth.
Final: Yankees 5, Red Sox 0.
David Robertson enters to
replace Hughes and pitch the ninth, and he slams the door on the Red
Sox after a couple of hiccups. Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez both
reach via singles in the ninth, but Robertson ends things by
out-clutching the ever-clutch David Ortiz. Papi strikes out looking on
a fastball down the middle, and the Red Sox have lost their fifth
End 8th, 5-0 Yanks: Gonzalez stays out there a little too long.
Jose Molina singles to lead off the eighth, and Captain Jeter follows
with a fly ball down the left-field line that stays fair and just
barely gets over the wall. With nobody out in the inning, the Yankees
pile on two more runs. Things don't look good for the Red Sox, who will
likely have to face Hughes for another inning with their backs to the
Middle 8th, 3-0 Yanks: Sabathia gives a great effort to finish
the eighth, but he can't quite make it. After striking out Casey
Kotchman for the second out of the inning and his ninth K of the game,
CC crosses the 120-pitch mark, and Girardi decides to halt things
there. He goes to the righty Phil Hughes to face the righty Nick Green, and Green strikes out to end the eighth.
The Yankees are now three outs away from their sixth straight win, which would make five straight losses for the Red Sox as well. Things look grim.
Gonzalez will stay on the mound to pitch the bottom of the eighth for Boston.
End 7th, 3-0 Yanks: Ramirez enters to pitch the seventh, but he
doesn't stick around long. With one on and one out, Ramirez plunks Alex
Rodriguez with the first pitch, and Jim Joyce immediately runs him from
the game. This causes quite a stir, especially since there's no way
Ramirez would waste a baserunner in the seventh inning of a close game.
Francona storms out of the dugout to dispute the call, but it's obviously a formality. Pretty much a lost cause — how often do you see unejections happen?
The ejection comes at a bad, bad time for the Red Sox, who were desperate to get their bullpen some rest after Friday night. Francona is forced to go to Enrique Gonzalez, a 26-year-old pitching for the first time in 2009, to relieve Ramirez — Gonzalez first gives up a bloop single to Hideki Matsui, and then after a fielder's choice, he walks Nick Swisher with the bases loaded to plate the Yankees' third run.
Sabathia's staying out there to pitch the eighth. He's working on a gem.
Middle 7th, 2-0 Yanks: The Sox finally give Sabathia a scare,
but again it amounts to nothing. Victor Martinez walks and Kevin
Youkilis singles to put two on with nobody out against CC, but the Red
Sox fail to capitalize. Big Papi strikes out swinging, and Cano and
Jeter then team up to turn a 4-6-3 double play and get out of the
inning. Jeter has a little bit of trouble at first to turn it from
second, but he stays with it and throws out Mike Lowell. Another goose
Ramon Ramirez will pitch the seventh for the Red Sox. Buchholz is done.
End 6th, 2-0 Yanks: The Yankees tack on another one against the
tiring Buchholz. Robinson Cano leads off the sixth inning with a double
to center field, and Joe Girardi play small ball by opting to have Nick
Swisher and his 18 home runs bunt Cano over to third. It works — two
batters later, a Jose Molina fly to center is enough to plate Cano with
a big insurance run.
The Red Sox will send the 3-4-5 of their order to the plate against Sabathia in the seventh. They need to start hitting now.
Middle 6th, 1-0 Yanks: Thanks to Jacoby Ellsbury, the no-hitter
is finally over. But the dominating performance certainly is not, as
Sabathia strikes out two more Red Sox to give him seven K's this
afternoon in what's so far a one-hit shutout.
Dustin Pedroia and Terry Francona had a little dispute with Jim Joyce over the final punchout of the sixth, as it might have been a foul tip and Tito wanted the call. But no dice.
Buchholz will return after 90 pitches to pitch the sixth. Given the state of this bullpen, no argument here.
End 5th, 1-0 Yanks: On the surface, one run in five innings is
encouraging, but to play devil's advocate, let's point out all the
usual troubling Buchholz numbers. Buch has now thrown 90 pitches
through five innings, and his walk issued to Teixeira with one out in
the fifth was his fourth free pass of the afternoon. He's only struck
Buchholz escapes after a Damon double and a walk with another scoreless inning, but he's still got to throw more strikes and work deeper into games. That's especially important in a game like this one — the Sox went 15 innings against the Yanks last night, and the bullpen desperately needs rest. At this rate, they won't get much.
Middle 5th, 1-0 Yanks: I must say, Tim McCarver's point
on today's FOX broadcast isn't an altogether bad one — it's a little
silly that grown men are so superstitious as to avoid the words
"no-hitter" when a starting pitcher finds himself in a no-hit
situation. In the dugout is one thing, since it can mess with the
pitcher's head and throw off his conversation. But the broadcast booth
— and most certainly the blogger's keyboard as well — is another
In any event, David Ortiz works a one-out walk in the top of the fifth to become the first Red Sox baserunner of the game against CC Sabathia. But Sabathia works to retain the no-hitter, getting Lowell to fly out to Melky in right center and then striking out J.D. Drew swinging. Five innings, five K's for CC.
Oh, and zero hits.
End 4th, 1-0 Yanks: Another jam for Buchholz, but again he works
out of it. With one out, the Sox' righty gives up a Cano single to
right and then walks Swisher on five pitches, but from there it's
smooth sailing. Cabrera flies to left, and Molina strikes out swinging
with two on and two out. Crisis averted.
The Red Sox, who have yet to muster a baserunner against CC Sabathia, will send their 4-5-6 hitters to the plate in the top of the fifth inning.
Middle 4th, 1-0 Yanks: Twelve up, twelve down. Four innings,
four strikeouts. Sabathia is making it look easy — and the entire Red
Sox lineup is looking comatose out there. Strikeout, flyout and
groundout is all she wrote for the top of the Red Sox' order in the top
of the fourth.
End 3rd, 1-0 Yanks: The Yankees get on the board first. Melky Cabrera reaches on a first-pitch infield single, as Nick Green's
throw to first pulls Kotchman just barely off the bag, and a Jose
Molina walk sets the table for a Yankee rally with nobody out.
Mike Lowell makes a nice play at third to turn a double play on a Derek Jeter grounder, and all of a sudden, Buchholz has two outs. But Buch then walks Damon on four pitches, and a hard line drive into right field off the bat of Teixeira is enough to score Melky. The Yankees go on top 1-0.
Green makes a nice play at short to put away A-Rod and end the rally, but if Green had made a better throw to first to retire Melky in the first place, the Yanks' first run never would have happened. Tough luck for Buchholz, who's pitching well.
Middle 3rd, 0-0: And then the 7-8-9 go 1-2-3. Two groundouts and
a strikeout of Casey Kotchman make it another perfect inning for
Sabathia, who has one punchout in each of the first three innings.
Sabathia has now thrown 37 pitches, 25 of them for strikes. He's on
End 2nd, 0-0: Robinson Cano has the first hit of the game for
either side, singling up the middle against Buchholz with one out in
the second, but Buch quickly fixes that problem by inducing a
first-pitch double-play ball from Nick Swisher.
It's still early, but we could be in for another scoreless struggle like last night. These two offenses are not exactly bringing it this weekend.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: With the Yankee Stadium fans behind him at full
strength, Sabathia puts up another three-up, three-down effort against
the Red Sox in the second. In light of David Ortiz's comments today
about recent the recent exposure of his positive steroid test, the fans
are really letting him have it — and in the Bronx, you can't expect
End 1st, 0-0: Youkilis proves a little rusty as a left fielder, misjudging a one-out fly ball from Johnny Damon and failing to run it down, but Clay Buchholz escapes the jam after Youk's two-base error. Buch baffles Mark Teixeira with a changeup for a swinging strikeout, and A-Rod grounds out to short to end the first.
There was a minor controversy between A-Rod and home plate umpire Jim Joyce about Buchholz's first pitch, which appeared to hit A-Rod on the shoulder, but it looks like Joyce got the call right. A-Rod fouled the pitch off, and the ricochet bounced off of him. So it appears, anyway.
4:24 p.m.: For all the talk about the clutch failures of Alex
Rodriguez, who bats fourth this inning, people forget that Alex has had
a lot of prime-time triumphs. Last night was actually his ninth career
walkoff home run, and his career OPS in extra-inning at-bats is a
robust 1.061, higher than in any individual inning. A-Rod has nine
homers in 113 at-bats after the regulation nine.
Middle 1st, 0-0: CC Sabathia has both the fastball and change-up
working early, and it translates to a quick 1-2-3 inning for the
hard-throwing Yankees ace. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Martinez go down in order for the Red Sox.
4:00 p.m.: Terry Francona has done a little shuffling with the bottom of his order, reinserting Mike Lowell at third base and moving Kevin Youkilis back out to left field. That means no start this afternoon for rookie Josh Reddick.
Lowell will bat sixth, J.D. Drew slots in seventh, and Casey Kotchman gets a start at first base to bat eighth. Kotchman plays first, Victor Martinez will catch, and Jason Varitek moves to the bench. Quite a shuffle.
For the Yankees, Jose Molina gets a start behind the plate. Joe Girardi gives a break to Jorge Posada, who must be exhausted after catching last night's marathon.
9:51 a.m.: The Red Sox keep finding new ways to lose. Friday
night was probably the most painful of all, as the Sox lasted 15
innings without managing to plate a single run against Yankees starter A.J. Burnett or the Bronx bullpen. Alex Rodriguez propelled the Yankees to victory with a walk-off two-run homer in the 15th.
Now, more than ever, they need a win.
Clay Buchholz, fresh off a miserable outing against the Orioles last weekend, gets the ball in this crucial third game of a four-game set at Yankee Stadium. Buchholz needs to bear down and find the strike zone this time out, or else the Red Sox will be in a world of trouble.
Boston faces Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia, who's no stranger to going strong down the stretch in August and September. The Red Sox have their work cut out for them.
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