Sabathia prevailed in a duel of two power arms at Yankee Stadium,
taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning and finishing with seven
innings of one-hit shutout ball. The Yankees won 3-0 behind a
rock-solid effort from their ace — he struck out eight Red Sox and
walked two — only Mike Lowell could manage a leadoff single in the
fifth inning against the Yanks' big man.
As for Matsuzaka, the Sox' righty was stellar in his third game back
from a season-threatening shoulder injury. The 29-year-old hurler
danced in and out of jams all day long, but he finished with just one
Yankee run on six hits in seven innings of work. He did walk five,
The Yankees broke open the scoreless tie with a sixth-inning solo home
run from Robinson Cano; they later rallied for two more against Billy
Wagner in the eighth. Johnny Damon managed just one hit on the day, but
it was a two-run single off of Wagner that padded the Yankees' lead and
ensured the team's 99th victory of the 2009 season.
The Yankees' magic number in the American League East race has been reduced to just one. The Sox are still three wins and/or Rangers losses away from the AL wild card.
Final: Yankees 3, Red Sox 0.
Mariano Rivera enters to pitch the ninth, and Mo slams the
door on the Red Sox as he's done countless times before. The good news
for the Sox is that Victor Martinez manages a two-out single, extending
his career-best hitting streak to 25 games in the nick of time; the bad
news is that Mo finishes things from there. A Youkilis hit-by-pitch
gives the Sox a second baserunner, but Rivera then strikes out Mike
Lowell to finish off his 43rd save. Ballgame over.
End 8th, 3-0 Yanks: Billy Wagner comes
on in relief to replace an exhausted Matsuzaka, and Wagner loads the
bases with one out for Derek Jeter. With pinch-runner Brett Gardner
on third base, the Red Sox lose a golden opportunity to get out of
trouble — Gardner gets caught in a rundown between third and home, but
in a mad dash back to third, the Yanks' speedster dodges a Mike Lowell
tag and the Bronx Bombers are given new life.
They take advantage. Jeter strikes out, but Johnny Damon comes through with two outs and the bases loaded, lining one to the right side for a base hit that plates two runs. A deflated Wagner comes out of the game with two outs in the eighth, and Tito opts for Daniel Bard to finish the inning. With a Mark Teixeira groundout to second, he does.
We're headed for the ninth, as the Yankees will attempt to finish this thing.
Middle 8th, 1-0 Yanks: Joe Girardi turns to Phil Hughes
to pitch the eighth in relief of Sabathia, and Hughes doesn't even
break a sweat — the Red Sox throw three straight pinch-hitters out
there, and all three go down without a fight. J.D. Drew grounds
out to first, Casey Kotchman strikes out looking, Josh Reddick goes
down swinging, and we're on to the bottom of the eighth. We may be
seeing the first 1-0 game in the history of the new Yankee Stadium —
End 7th, 1-0 Yanks: Tito sticks
with Dice-K to pitch the bottom of the seventh inning, and he has no
reason to regret it. The Sox' righty makes it a 1-2-3 inning against
the 3-4-5 of the Yankees' order — Teixeira, A-Rod and Hideki Matsui go
down in short order, and it's on to the eighth. Matsuzaka has now
thrown 115 pitches in seven innings — he's probably done for the day
Middle 7th, 1-0 Yanks: Again
the Red Sox manage one baserunner, but again they get nothing out of
it. Amazingly, the one-hit shutout remains intact for Sabathia — he
hits Kevin Youkilis on an 0-1 pitch with one out in the seventh, but he
comes back to induce back-to-back groundouts from Mike Lowell and David
Ortiz. The pitchers' duel continues — we're moving to the bottom of
End 6th, 1-0 Yanks: So much for
that scoreless tie. Robinson Cano blasts the Yankees into the driver's
seat, sending one deep to left field and several rows deep into the
Yankee Stadium bleachers. It's his 24th home run of the year, and it's
a big one — at this rate, one run might be all CC Sabathia needs to
keep the Red Sox at bay and polish off win No. 19. The Sox' bats really
need to wake up soon.
Middle 6th, 0-0: At least the
Yankees are making Dice-K sweat. The Red Sox still can't get anything
at all going against CC Sabathia. CC walks Brian Anderson on five
pitches to lead off the sixth, but the Red Sox come nowhere close to
capitalizing — Jacoby Ellsbury strikes out swinging, and Dustin
Pedroia then grounds into a 6-3 double play. Another goose egg on the
scoreboard in the Bronx.
End 5th, 0-0: You've seen
Dice-K work his way out of a lot of jams, but never one quite like
this. It starts with yet another leadoff single for Derek Jeter — this
time he grounds one slowly to Mike Lowell at third, and despite a
beautiful barehand and quick release from the Sox' third baseman, he
beats the throw to first. From there, Dice-K gets himself into trouble,
loading the bases for A-Rod with nobody out — but the defense bails
him out in style.
First, Victor Martinez makes a spectacular play in front of the plate, jumping
on an A-Rod dribbler and diving home to tag the plate and force out
Jeter. V-Mart then makes a nice catch of a foul pop-up behind home plate — and with two outs, it's up to Nick Swisher to keep the inning alive. He doesn't — Swisher pops one up in foul territory on the left side, and Lowell makes a nice running catch to put it away and end the inning. Miraculously, we are still scoreless at Yankee Stadium.
Middle 5th, 0-0: The good news
for the Red Sox is they have their first hit — Mike Lowell leads off
the inning with a single to center field, and CC begins to look mortal.
The bad news is the Sox get nothing more — Sabathia proceeds to strike
out the side from there, mowing down Papi. Baldelli and Lowrie. CC now
has seven strikeouts in five innings, and he's thrown just 71 pitches.
End 4th, 0-0: For the third
time in four innings, Dice-K lets the Yankees' leadoff man reach base,
but again he works his way out of trouble. He's a pro at that. Melky
Cabrera singles to center on a 2-2 pitch, and Nick Swisher then walks
with still nobody out, but Dice-K goes to work on the bottom of the
Yanks' order. Two flyouts and a groundout end the inning, and we head
to the fifth.
Middle 4th, 0-0: The Sox have
still yet to make solid contact against CC Sabathia — but his former
catcher, Victor Martinez, becomes the first Boston baserunner when he
reaches via an eight-pitch walk with two outs in the fourth. That
brings up Kevin Youkilis, who lines one up the middle for what appears
to be the Sox' first hit — but Derek Jeter ranges into the hole and
makes a nice lunging catch. Inning over, and we're still scoreless.
End 3rd, 0-0: Dice-K keeps on
keepin' on. In typical fashion, the Sox' righty finds himself in a jam
but works his way out of it — the Yanks put runners at the corners for
Alex Rodriguez, but Dice-K gets out of it via an unorthodox strike 'em
out, throw 'em out double play. A-Rod strikes out looking, and when
Teixeira takes off for second base, he's called out because A-Rod is
standing over home plate obstructing Victor Martinez's throw. An
interference call bails the Red Sox out of the third.
Middle 3rd, 0-0: Hard to
believe that despite nine good years as a workhorse pitcher for several
good teams, CC Sabathia has never completed a 20-win season. He's
making a push for it now, sitting on 18 with likely two starts to go in
2009. Another solid inning here — CC shuts down the Sox with just six
pitches, although he needs a little help from Melky Cabrera, who makes
a beautiful catch at the warning track in center to rob Jed Lowrie.
Still scoreless at Yankee Stadium.
End 2nd, 0-0: Matsuzaka is
matching Sabathia goose egg for goose egg so far, but he's doing it the
hard way. Dice-K gives up a single to right by Nick Swisher and then issues a rare Robinson Cano walk with one out, but a Melky Cabrera comebacker
to the mound (a slightly less scary one this time) makes out number
two, and the catcher Molina then flies out for the final out in the
second. We remain scoreless.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: Sabathia is
just cruising on the mound for the host Yankees — six up, six down,
four of them by way of the K. In fact, the second inning transpires
exactly as the first did — back-to-back strikeouts (this time it's
Youkilis and Lowell), followed by a flyout to center field from David Ortiz. The Sox are still looking to crack CC for the first time.
End 1st, 0-0: Derek Jeter leads
things off with a single, as he's done countless times this season, but
the Yankees get nothing out of it. Daisuke Matsuzaka works out of
trouble without any further hiccups — three straight groundouts from Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez spell a scoreless first inning for the Bronx Bombers.
Middle 1st, 0-0: So far, so good for CC Sabathia and the Yankees. So very, very good. The big fella strikes out the game's first two batters, Jacoby Ellsbury swinging and Dustin Pedroia looking,
and appears poised to strike out the side. He gets Victor Martinez to
2-2 and just barely misses with a 94-mph heater; Victor gets another
chance, but he flies out to center and ends the inning. The Yanks are
3:35 p.m.: The big news for the Red Sox this afternoon is that Victor Martinez is starting behind the plate — this will be his first time catching Daisuke Matsuzaka. Kevin Youkilis moves back to first base, Mike Lowell gets the start at third and Jason Varitek is off today.
A couple of Red Sox regulars get the day off today — with the lefty Sabathia on the mound, Terry Francona has benched J.D. Drew, Alex Gonzalez and Jason Bay in favor of Rocco Baldelli, Jed Lowrie and Brian Anderson, respectively.
For the Yankees, Jorge Posada has the day off while Jose Molina catches Sabathia.
9:09 a.m.: In Friday night's series opener at Yankee Stadium,
the Red Sox were lucky to get out of it with their limbs intact. They
The Sox endured a scare when a Melky Cabrera line drive nailed Jon Lester in the leg in the third inning, but Lester appears to be on the road to recovery and the Sox live to play another day.
Still on the verge of a playoff berth despite Friday's setback, Boston looks to give it another go on Saturday afternoon. Daisuke Matsuzaka, two starts into his return from a shoulder injury, hopes to prove he's ready for October baseball. His opponent, CC Sabathia, hopes to inch closer to the first 20-win season of his career. Both teams are bound for October, but both pitchers have plenty to compete for.
And what's more, there's always pride on the line when these two teams meet.
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