Well, maybe not. But at least the Sox still are. While nobody was jumping through hoops or spraying their buddy with champagne the players were insistent on not being spoilers, but rather taking this series game-by-game and seeing where they are when it's over.
Then we might be able to say "It's over" and really mean it. For now we look to Jon Lester to keep it going on Saturday against rookie Ivan Nova.
First pitch is 4:10 p.m.
Final, Red Sox 10-8: Mark Teixeira adds to the Yankees' home run barrage with a solo shot off Jonathan Papelbon and New York amazingly gets the tying run to the plate after trailing by nine runs. Papelbon bends, but does not break and the Red Sox hold on.
The seven runs that New York scores late in the game make it seem like "less" of a win, but Boston put a hurting on the hosts early and the margin was just a bit too much, even on a night that saw balls flying out of this place.
Coupled with a Tampa Bay win the Yankees are now in second place and the wild card leaders again. The Sox trail them by 6 1/2 games with five remaining between the two old rivals.
Back in an hour or so to wrap it up.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 10-7: Here comes Jonathan Papelbon, whose 4.29 ERA and five losses against the Yankees are highs against any American League opponent.
10:01 p.m.: Kerry Wood walks one and strikes out one in the ninth. Boone Logan is on in relief with David Ortiz coming to the plate.
End 8th, Red Sox 10-7: There have been so many adventures for Jonathan Papelbon in the one-plus year that this place has existed, some good and some bad. He will have a chance to build on the positive in a moment.
Daniel Bard works around a two-out single in the eighth and the Sox are three outs away from knocking the Yankees into second place and pulling within six games in the loss column.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 10-7: Kerry Wood has been a great acquisition for the Yankees. He has a perfect eighth to keep it a three-run game. Daniel Bard is coming on for Boston.
End 7th, Red Sox 10-7: So steady for a solid two months, Scott Atchison has finally hit a bump in the road. He gives up a walk before serving up a home run to Alex Rodriguez, the second in as many innings for A-Rod.
Atchison has faced seven hitters in his last two outings. Two have homered, two have singled, one has walked and two have grounded out.
Rodriguez now has 610 homers, passing Sammy Sosa and moving into sixth place on the all-time list. Next up is Ken Griffey Jr. with 630.
9:29 p.m.: Two-out walks will kill you. Josh Beckett issues one to Derek Jeter in the bottom of the seventh and Nick Swisher follows with the Yankees' fourth home run of the game to pull the hosts within five.
For Beckett that is one home run shy of a career high, set last year against? You guessed it, the New York Yankees.
Scott Atchison is on in relief.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 10-3: Jed Lowrie has set a new career high with four hits, a home run and three singles. Your starting shortstop in 2011?
The word on Mike Lowell is that he was taken out for precautionary reasons.
End 6th, Red Sox 10-3: You'd like to say there is plenty of room for error when you are playing with a nine-run lead (now seven) but you never know against the Yankees.
Josh Beckett served up back-to-back home runs to Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in the sixth.
The Yanks have out-homered the Sox 3-2, but all of theirs have been solo shots. Both of Boston's were three-run bombs.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 10-1: Lars Anderson has replaced Mike Lowell at first base after the incident in the fifth. We will get you all the updates after the game.
This is what makes the Red Sox' recent 2-4 homestand so disappointing. They will be six games behind New York in the loss column in a matter of a few innings, barring something unforeseen.
Had they just gone 4-2 against Toronto and Baltimore that margin would be four, with nine games to play and five of them against the Yankees. You could really dream the dream if that was the case.
End 5th, Red Sox 10-1: The Yankees get a pair of hits but the Red Sox, and anyone else who saw it, breathe a huge sigh of relief when Mike Lowell is OK after taking a bad-hop grounder off his face.
It was a scary scene, Lowell laying on his back for some time before telling the trainer and Terry Francona that he is good to go on. The ball appeared to hit him on the right side of his face, perhaps around the cheekbone.
Not making light of the situation, but how incredible is it that both first basemen get hit in the face on grounders in the same inning?
Mid 5th, Red Sox 10-1: Bill Hall had not homered since Aug. 22 until he unloaded on a Jonathan Albaladejo fastball with two men on. It is the second three-run homer of the game for the Red Sox, who have 12 hits already.
The rally began with a two-out walk to Mike Lowell. Jed Lowrie then singled off Mark Teixeira's face to set up Hall's big blow.
End 4th, Red Sox 7-1: Josh Beckett looks very good so far. He just torched Mark Teixeira on a beautiful changeup to begin his second perfect inning.
Before we hand Beckett the win let's recall a start he had in Texas last month in which he blew most of a six-run lead and the bullpen blew the rest. Not saying that will happen again, but the next couple of innings will be big.
Beckett has thrown a tidy 47 pitches.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 7-1: Andy Pettitte threw 26 pitches in the fourth inning, allowing four runs and getting one out. Jonathan Albaladejo throws just two and is out of the inning, inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of Victor Martinez.
8:12 p.m.: What did I say about Andy Pettitte looking as good as ever? I take that back. It was a rash reaction to one good inning. The Sox have knocked him from the game and have a 7-1 lead after a string of hard hits in the fourth.
Boston's eighth hit off Pettitte is a two-run double by Darnell McDonald that was mistakingly fielded by the ballboy.
It was actually a break for the Sox. Had it not been touched Mike Lowell would've been in a mad dash home and we know that could've been tough to watch. In any event, it puts Boston up 5-1.
The Sox' ninth hit, a single by Marco Scutaro, also drives in two runs to make it a six-run game.
Their 10th hit off Pettitte is base hit by J.D. Drew and ends the night for the Yankees' lefty. Jonathan Albaladejo is on in relief with just one out and two on.
End 3rd, Red Sox 3-1: Terry Francona talked about Josh Beckett earlier Friday, saying so much of his success depends upon staying out of the middle of the plate. It was a 3-1 fastball, and a fat one, that Curtis Granderson sent deep to right for a solo shot in the third.
By the way, the Yankees have juggled their rotation for this series. Joe Girardi announced before the game that Phil Hughes will be bumped from Sunday to Wednesday as the club continues to try to limit his innings a bit.
Dustin Moseley, who was sharp against Boston here last month, will go in place of Hughes.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: Adrian Beltre is now tied for second in the American League by grounding into 25 double plays. His latest stifles a potential rally in the third, which saw J.D. Drew and Victor Martinez both single with one out.
End 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: Strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano help get Josh Beckett through a 1-2-3 second. Both punchouts come on fastballs, the pitch Beckett has, at times, struggled to locate.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: Jed Lowrie keeps slugging. His seventh home run in 46 games (several of which he did not start) gives the Red Sox three quick runs. Nineteen of his 37 hits have gone for extra bases.
It was an opposite-field shot that followed a double by David Ortiz and an error by right fielder Nick Swisher that allowed Mike Lowell to reach.
It appeared as if Swisher lost a low liner in the lights. Ortiz won an eight-pitch battle with Andy Pettitte, against whom he is now batting .377 (20-for-53).
End 1st, 0-0: We know Marco Scutaro is playing a secondary position but he has had some ugly errors. You will recall his dropped pop the other night at home. He mishandles a routine grounder in the first, allowing Nick Swisher to reach with one out.
Josh Beckett induces a double play off the bat of Mark Teixeira so the error doesn't hurt anyone.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Josh Beckett and Andy Pettitte both had two-month layoffs with their respective injuries. We saw Beckett be very up and down upon his return. Pettitte is making just his second start since coming back from a groin injury but looks as good as ever.
Pettitte allowed a run on just three hits in six innings at Baltimore five days ago. He is through the top of the first in just 10 pitches.
7:06 p.m.: Andy Pettitte gets a nice hand as he trots to the Yankee Stadium mound for the first time since July 18. We are just about ready for the first pitch.
5:33 p.m.: As we watch the Red Sox take batting practice below on what was a hot and hazy day in New York, here are a few words from Terry Francona.
The manager was asked first about Josh Beckett, his starter for the opener. What does he hope to see from him over the final few starts?
"I don't think we need to look at the next start yet," Francona said. "Tonight's a big one.
"When we start worrying ourselves with how he is going to pitch in Chicago that wouldn't make a lot of sense. It's always the same: pound the strike zone, stay out of the middle of the plate and when innings start to occur, stop the bleeding. Then see if we can score. He looks healthy. He's not always been real consistent with his pitches in the second half. It would certainly be nice to have him finish this year on a real good note. I think it can do nothing but help.
"Regardless, when he goes home he's going to work hard and he's going to come back with a vengeance."
By saying tonight's a big one is an example of Francona's consistent desire to focus on the game in front of him, and that's it. But if you wanted to you could almost construe it to mean that it is big because of how poorly Beckett has done against the Yankees.
The righty is 0-3 with a 10.54 ERA in his last five starts vs. New York. While much of Beckett's progress now and into 2011 deals with his physical capabilities it would be nice to see him break down a mental barrier, if you will. It's just been a nightmare for him against the Yanks.
Francona was also asked about whether coming to Yankee Stadium late in the season but not having as much on the line creates a different feel. Has the team discussed playing spoiler?
"I didn't hear that," he said. "We didn't have a meeting or anything. I wish we were eight games up. Nothing really changes. The best way for us to go about our business…it all comes out the same, if we win we're gonna be happy. Then you can use whatever adjective you want. I would just like us to play good baseball."
Jed Lowrie is back in the lineup at shortstop and has been getting more consistent playing time as the season goes on, a sure sign that his strength is nearly all the way back. Francona's take on Lowrie now and going forward:
"I think with his wrist I think he's doing really well. I think he looks pretty strong. I think as far as the mono goes I think when he's in next spring you'll see a little more bounce in his step. It looks to me like he's still a half step slower than he was before, and he's not really a guy, for a major league shortstop he's not that fleet a foot. He's just not blessed with a lot of foot speed, so that's something he needs to stay on top of and i know he will.
"But again, he's played a lot. We've tried to get an occasional day off because I think he deserves it."
Francona then paused, perhaps thinking to next spring when a healthy Lowrie might be in the mix as either the top utility man or even a part-time starter at short.
"We could have a nice potential dilemma. At worst you have a guy that swings the bat from both sides of the plate and can play first, second, third and short."
There are no injury updates or anything along those lines. Just getting ready for the Sox-Yanks under slightly different terms than those which we are used to.
4:03 p.m.: Greetings from Yankee Stadium, where yours truly is sorry for being late. No wiggle room on the hotel check-in. But I'm in now, have the lineups for you and will head down in a moment to hear from Terry Francona.
Here are those lineups:
Marco Scutaro, 2B
J.D. Drew, RF
Victor Martinez, C
Adrian Beltre, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 1B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Bill Hall, LF
Darnell McDonald, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Nick Swisher, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Lance Berkman dh
Jorge Posada, C
Curtis Granderson, CF
Brett Gardner, LF
8 a.m.: Josh Beckett will attempt to end his struggles against the New York Yankees when he leads the Red Sox into the first of three in the Bronx on Friday night.
Beckett currently has five straight quality starts to his credit, but has had five straight difficult outings vs. the Yankees. In those five appearances he is 0-3 with a 10.54 ERA.
The Sox are coming off a 2-4 homestand in which they lost a series to both Toronto and Baltimore, just about closing the door on their playoff hopes.
Andy Pettitte goes for New York, which is eying its 11th division title in 13 years.
First pitch is 7:05 p.m.
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