NEW YORK — On Saturday, the Red Sox and Yankees played a game in 2 hours, 47 minutes, their shortest game since July 3, 2008, a span of 40 meetings overall. It was their first contest this year that finished in under three hours. The sun was still shining when the final out was made.
Such conditions are not conducive to winning baseball. At least not for the Sox.
With a 5-2 loss in the speedy affair at Yankee Stadium, Boston fell to 12-18 in day games, compared to a 51-30 mark at night, which happens the best record in the majors.
Much of it is pure coincidence. The Red Sox just happened to be facing Yankees ace CC Sabathia, who has not lost at home since before the 2009 All-Star break, in the latest afternoon tilt. But for whatever reason, whether it be karma, bad luck or the elements, it just never seems to go right when the sun is up. Boston hits 14 points less in the afternoon than it does under the stars. Its pitching staff gives up two-thirds of a run more than it does when it’s past their children’s bed time.
On Saturday, it was that big yellow star that got in the way, initially creating some shadows around home plate that made Sabathia that much more potent.
“Makes it a little tougher when you get those shadows out there, just throws your depth perception off a little bit,” said Bill Hall, who was 0-for-3. “Him not making mistakes and us not seeing the ball as well as we would on a normal day makes it tough.”
That wasn’t the case early on.
Victor Martinez opened the top of the second inning by hitting his 10th home run of the season, a drive to left-center field off his former battery mate that started the scoring.
Adrian Beltre and Mike Lowell followed with back-to-back doubles for a second run. But as the day moved toward night, but never reached it, the runs were hard to come by. In fact, they were nonexistent. Sabathia gave up just two hits thereafter.
John Lackey matched Sabathia through the first four innings and had the first two outs in the fifth before back-to-back singles gave New York an opportunity.
Robinson Cano, moved up a spot into the cleanup role when Alex Rodriguez was a late scratch, lofted a liner toward J.D. Drew. With the sun in his eyes and multiple runners on, Drew played it conservatively and backed off, allowing the ball to drop just a few feet in front of him.
As the go-ahead run came in, Lackey threw his arms up in the air, likely hopeful the Cano hit was destined to be the final out.
“I think on some days J.D. might have a play. Pretty tough sun field today,” said manager Terry Francona said, who then saw Jorge Posada dribble one through the hole to right to plate another run and make it 4-2 Yankees. “They bunch four hits together and those are two more runs.”
That was all Sabathia needed. He sliced his way all the way to the ninth, where he gave way to Mariano Rivera.
Two All-Stars who are having tremendous seasons may have shut down the Red Sox on any field at any time of the day. Maybe that the sun was still up means nothing in the end. You just tip your cap and move on.
Just don’t remove it completely. The sun might get in your eyes.
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