In a game that saw Clay Buchholz throwing to a New York Yankees lineup loaded with muscle (Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada each were in the starting lineup), those who spent more than two hours on a bus from Fort Myers were thrilled with what happened when all those guys sat down.
Several Red Sox youngsters propelled the club to a 5-3 win over the Yanks. Oscar Tejeda, Jose Iglesias and Juan Carlos Linares combined to go 6-for-7 with four RBIs and four runs scored. Iglesias made one of the marvelous defensive plays he is already known for at the age of 21, and Tejeda helped end a New York threat in the ninth with a fine play of his own.
“I’d take a two-hour bus ride to watch those young kids do what they did,” manager Terry Francona said. “Watch Linares and [Iglesias] with the game he played at short. Tejeda, that was worth the bus ride.”
The Sox had actually gone scoreless in 22 straight innings dating back to the first inning of Wednesday’s loss to Atlanta before Daniel Nava gave them a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the sixth. The Yankees tied it in the bottom half, but the kids who came to play had some fun in the seventh.
With two outs, Iglesias singled, and a walk put runners on first and second. Linares, who is actually a bit older at 26 but new to the system after being signed out of Cuba last year, lined an RBI single to center to put the Sox ahead to stay. Tejeda followed with an opposite-field, two-run triple.
Iglesias’ web gem highlighted the bottom of the seventh. A Linares double and Tejeda single in the ninth gave Boston some insurance.
The trio of minor league standouts are a combined 11-for-24 (.458) this spring and celebrated like they had won a playoff game when the final out was made. Such is the reaction on a night when you take care of the Yanks in front of the largest crowd in Steinbrenner Field history, even if the result means nothing in the standings.
“I think it’s better for the young kids,” Francona added. “I think they grow up a lot on a night like tonight … In this atmosphere, I think it’s a learning process for them. Rather than bring up a bunch of veteran guys, they can stay home and get their work done, these kids end up having a heck of a night.”
With that, Francona walked off to prepared for another two-plus hours on a bus, which will give him just a handful of hours of sleep before he has to get ready for a day game at home Saturday. Still, it was worth it.
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