Red Sox Live Blog: Yankees Reclaim First Place in AL East With 3-2 Win in Series Opener

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Red Sox Live Blog: Yankees Reclaim First Place in AL East With 3-2 Win in Series Opener

Postgame, Yankees 3-2: The Red Sox, who are 4-5 in their last nine games, are in second place for the first time since July 6.

Cause for concern? Hardly. As players on both sides just reminded us, there’s 50-something games to go.

It’s actually 51,the next being a 4:10 p.m. affair Saturday afternoon. It’ll be CC Sabathia against John Lackey, a great chance for New York to ensure that it leaves town with the division lead.

Look for more on the standings, as well as a take on the battle of the bullpens, on the site. Thanks for following along tonight.

Final, Yankees 3-2: That’ll do it, folks. Strikeouts of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Josh Reddick end it, and the Yankees are back in first place, despite just two wins in 10 games against their rivals.

Off to hear from the fellas, who have a quick turnaround before a noonish arrival tomorrow. Back soon.

Mid 9th, Yankees 3-2: Alfredo Aceves gets his man and we head to the last half of the ninth.

If you hear a roar in the coming minutes, you’ll know why.

10:23 p.m.: Just tweeted it, but the first two guys up for the Red Sox in the ninth have some pretty good numbers against Mariano Rivera.

David Ortiz is a .320 (8-for-25) hitter and Carl Crawford is a .350 (7-for-20) hitter vs. the Yanks closer. Both have one home run.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has never faced Rivera, but Jason Varitek has and often with success (10-for-35, one HR, eight RBI).

Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, perhaps. The Yankees have Brett Gardner on first and two outs. Alfredo Aceves has replaced Randy Williams.

Gardner will be running.

End 8th, Yankees 3-2: We are used to seeing the Red Sox bullpen do this — pick up the pieces after a short start and simply slam the door.

Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Rafael Soriano and David Robertson have combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings after Robertson slices through the heart of the Red Sox order.

Mariano lurks as Randy Williams steps to the mound for the Sox.

Mid 8th, Yankees 3-2: Another two-inning outing for Matt Albers, his ninth of the season.

That’s an incredible resource for Terry Francona. Its value will be even more apparent if/when the Red Sox tie or take the lead.

That effort takes place against David Robertson, who enters 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA.

End 7th, Yankees 3-2: That’s an 11-pitch 1-2-3 inning for Rafael Soriano. The Yankees have this thing set up rather well right now.

David Robertson will work the eighth and Mariano Rivera the ninth, provided nothing changes dramatically.

That’s how things will probably lay out for Joe Girardi’s bullpen going forward. Robertson has been huge stepping into Soriano’s void, but Soriano will be a quality seventh-inning guy if he can rediscover his form.

He looked pretty good in the seventh. Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to end the frame.

Mid 7th, Yankees 3-2: With Randy Williams loosening in the pen, Matt Albers gets through the seventh with few issues.

He did allow a two-out walk to Eduardo Nunez, but a well-timed pitchout led to an easy caught stealing at second.

Rafael Soriano is coming on for the Yanks. He has pitched just twice since coming off the disabled list, both in blowouts. This is a huge moment for New York as it hopes to see this guy emerge into something for them down the stretch.

The last time Soriano pitched before hitting the DL was May 13 against Boston, tossing a scoreless ninth in a 5-4 Red Sox win in New York.

End 6th, Yankees 3-2: Well, the strategy works, even though it went against the grain a bit.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounds to first to strand another runner and we head to the seventh.

Matt Albers is your new pitcher.

9:33 p.m.: Because of the presence of David Ortiz and Carl Crawford, lefty Boone Logan was left in there to work the sixth.

Logan got Kevin Youkilis and then struck out Ortiz, but couldn’t get through the entire frame. Carl Crawford ripped one toward the triangle for a double that could’ve been more if Nick Swisher hadn’t cut it off.

With Jarrod Saltalamacchia stepping to the plate, Joe Girardi is turning to righty Cory Wade. Not really sure why Girardi wouldn’t let Logan face Salty, who does most of his damage against right-handers (.857 OPS vs. .662 against lefties).

Mid 6th, Yankees 3-2: Jon Lester was able to work around a pair of walks earlier in the game, but his third simply sets the stage for a Yankees go-ahead rally.

When you walk the No. 9 hitter, those things can happen.

After issuing the free pass to Eduardo Nunez to begin the inning, Lester gives up back-to-back hits to Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, the second to score New York’s first run.

After a walk to Mark Teixeira loaded the bases, Lester got Robinson Cano to hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Jeter scored but Lester was on the verge of getting out of a nasty mess with limited damage.

Until…..

Nick Swisher doubled into the corner in left, narrowly sneaking the ball past the dive of Kevin Youkilis.

That brought in Granderson to give New York its first lead.

Lester is at 108 pitches (35 in the sixth). Matt Albers was warming, but has stopped. We will see what Terry Francona does in a moment.

Boone Logan is still on the mound for the Yanks.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Sorry for the premature end to the fifth in that last post. I had a premonition. (had to be there…I’ve edited it.)

No Yankees fan wants to see Boone Logan in the game with two outs in the fifth, especially early in a series against a great offense, but Logan gets a mammoth out, fanning Adrian Gonzalez on three pitches to leave the bases loaded.

8:57 p.m.: One sign of a young hitter finding his game is contained in what is happening to Josh Reddick right now.

When Reddick started this year on fire, it wasn’t the first time a player was promoted from the minors and caught fire — the book on such players is thin.

When Reddick then began to slump, and look overmatched at times during it, it wasn’t the first time a player promoted from the minors saw his hot streak come to an end.

But the ones who stick are the ones who bounce right back.

Since his recent swoon, Reddick is 7-for-14. He is 2-for-2 against Bartolo Colon, a guy he had never seen before tonight.

Reddick’s hit in the fifth helped set up exactly what’s going on right now.

Jacoby Ellsbury walked one out later and Dustin Pedroia then had an infield hit. With the bases full and Adrian Gonzalez up, Joe Girardi has called upon lefty Boone Logan.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Jon Lester has issued two walks in this game, both of them to Andruw Jones.

But Lester also has seven strikeouts, one to Russell Martin to get the first out of the fifth. And he has a base running gaffe by Jones that has helped him get through five unscathed.

Jones ventured three-quarters of the way to second on a bloop to right by Jorge Posada. Jones was easily doubled off when Josh Reddick made the grab on the run. A pretty poor play for a guy that’s been around for some time.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Love how NESN threw up the AAA Roadside Assistance promo as they flashed to Bartolo Colon on the mound. Is he going to break down at some point?

Many people seem to think so, and July was his worst month from a statistical standpoint.

David Ortiz is doing his part to make August even more difficult.

Ortiz, who entered his at-bat in the fourth 4-for-42 against Colon, just deposited his 21st home run of the year over the Boston bullpen.

Still, Colon looks pretty strong. That was a fastball that just didn’t have the same zip and got too much of the plate. Colon battled back to strike out Carl Crawford to finish the inning.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 1-0: Jon Lester has struck out two batters in three of his four innings so far. Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano are the victims in the fourth.

Lester’s current role is beginning to enter that next stratosphere. His ERA over the past seven-plus starts is now down to 1.07.

That’s a sample size of more than 50 innings, pretty ample for such a number.

End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Bartolo Colon had two outs, a man on first and a mission against Jacoby Ellsbury.

As Colon does so often, he pumped in fastball after fastball in an eight-pitch encounter with Ellsbury (one was a slider).

Ellbury fouled off three of them, worked the count to 3-2 and then smacked a double off the Green Monster. It was enough to score Marco Scutaro from first and give the Red Sox the first lead of the series.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: For a scoreless inning that did not see one man reach second base, the third had plenty of action.

Eduardo Nunez led off with a bunt single and then performed an act that might cause some stuff to happen in this series. A table-setter for some nasty stuff, if you will.

When Derek Jeter grounded to shortstop, Nunez began his take-out slide on Dustin Pedroia at second at the bag, sliding well past it and forcing Pedroia to go airborne.

Regardless of whether you think it was dirty or a good baseball play, it worked, for Pedroia’s throw pulled Adrian Gonzalez off the bag just a tad, and Jeter was safe. Gonzalez argued, as did Terry Francona. Replays, from my point of view, were inconclusive. He may have kept a toe on the bag.

Jeter then took off on the ever-improving Jarrod Saltalamacchia and was the latest victim to Salty’s cannon.

Carl Crawford made the last out on a dive in left-center field. An end to a solid inning on the defensive end for the Sox.

End 2nd, 0-0: Grounding into double plays at a high rate is often a good thing, for it means your team has men on base to begin with. 

The Red Sox entered leading the American League in that category with 100. New York is at 99.

Boston’s lead in the category is now two after David Ortiz erased a Kevin Youkilis leadoff hit by bouncing into a 4-6-3 DP.

Carl Crawford was retired on a comebacker.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: For a span of eight pitches in the second, Jon Lester lost it.

Lester gave up a single to Nick Swisher with one down in the inning and then walked Andruw Jones on four pitches.

Russell Martin then got ahead 3-0 on Lester, who was not pleased with Eric Cooper’s strike zone. But that’s a rather typical Lester reaction. He was missing, for sure.

The lefty battled back nicely, however. He got Martin to pop to shortstop and then struck out Jorge Posada looking on the old cutter.

Lester has four Ks already. He threw nine of 11 pitches for strikes in the first, but just 11 of 23 in the second.

End 1st, 0-0: Prior to the game, Terry Francona was asked about Bartolo Colon’s resurgence and made a point of stressing his ability to throw that pitch that starts in on lefties before breaking back over the plate.

Colon’s first encounter of the night, Jacoby Ellsbury, was victim to that very offering, staring at the two-seamer for a called strike three.

Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez both grounded to second to wrap up a quick frame.

Mid 1st, 0-0: When you have that “Who is the ace of the Red Sox?” debate, one item those in the Jon Lester camp have going for them is his dominance against the Yankees.

I know Josh Beckett has done well vs. New York this year, but Lester’s been a rock against these guys for a few years now, while Beckett’s been up and down.

Counts for something in that “argument” when you consistently take care of the high-powered rivals.

Lester has a first inning in keeping with that trend, getting Derek Jeter to fly to center and then striking out both Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira.

7:11 p.m.: After a dinner of stuffed shells and salad, Jon Lester has thrown his first pitch (I had the dinner, not sure what he had). We are off and running.

6:23 p.m.: In past years, it was a series like this when the Yankees put down the hammer. They have often had the better of the Red Sox when the season gets short, almost to an alarming level.

Since 2002, Boston is 58-38 against New York prior to the All-Star break, a .604 winning percentage.

After the break, that mark is 31-49, a .388 winning percentage.

It doesn’t mean all that much, for the season series ends up just getting evened out. But if history repeats itself in 2011, it would likely mean a division title for the Yanks. The clubs play nine more times this year, and avoiding having to start the postseason with a trip to Texas is the potential prize for the division winner.

There is also the very distinct possibility of an ALCS matchup. Both teams would love homefield advantage if it ever came to that.

Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Still, the Red Sox are very aware of how well the Yankees are playing coming into this thing.

6:10 p.m.: Yes, the Yankees are actually fielding a team tonight. Forgot to include their batting order. Here it be:

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Andruw Jones, LF
Russell Martin, C
Jorge Posada, DH
Eduardo Nunez, 3B

Jeter is 14-for-42 (.333) against Lester. After that, the production gets rather meager. The last eight hitters in the lineup are a combined 34-for-150 (.227) vs. the lefty, who has won five straight starts against New York. That is the longest run by a Red Sox southpaw since 1919.

4:41 p.m.: Quick updates on some actual baseball matters as we navigate the circus that is Yanks-Sox.

Terry Francona has mapped out his rotation for the coming week or so.

Andrew Miller was going to start the opener in Minnesota on Monday if he was not used out of the bullpen last night, but he ended up throwing 71 pitches, so he’s wasted for a bit.

The plan is to have Tim Wakefield start Monday against the Twins, Erik Bedard go on Tuesday and then Jon Lester on Wednesday. There’s a day off Thursday, after which we should see John Lackey, Josh Beckett and then Wakefield again out in Seattle.

Miller will be given a few days to recover from his outing last night and then can be used out of the bullpen. But not too much. He is penciled in to start one of the games during the Tampa Bay series at home Aug. 16-17. The first day of that series is a doubleheader, so we might get Miller in one of those two games.

“That’s a pretty logical landing point,” Francona said.

This is all subject to change, but that’s where we stand right now.

In other news, Jed Lowrie looks to be on track to join the team when it heads to the Twin Cities. He will serve as the designated hitter in Pawtucket tonight and play shortstop tomorrow. Sunday will be a down day, and if all goes well, Lowrie will be activated Monday.

Presumably, Randy Williams will be the roster casualty as the team is carrying 13 pitchers right now. That’s speculation.

Finally, Bobby Jenks will throw a bullpen session Sunday. If he feels OK, he’s off to the depressing strip mall they call Fort Myers for some simulated games and then eventually back to Pawtucket for another rehab stint.

Back in a bit.

3:28 p.m.: No surprises in the lineup for the opener. Have a look:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Carl Crawford, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Josh Reddick, RF
Marco Scutaro, SS

Adrian Gonzalez is 4-for-13 with two home runs off Bartolo Colon. David Ortiz? Um, he’s 4-for-41 (.098) with 15 strikeouts.

Headed to the clubhouse and our daily meeting with Terry Francona. Back soon.

3:02 p.m.: Greetings from Yankee Stadium, where we already have a sense of the buzz surrounding this series just by sitting in the packed press box.

Actually, it’s always like this when the Yankees come to town. Seats up above are at a premium. But we’ve managed to find a nice perch and are prepared to carry you through three days of craziness.

Lineups should be over in a heartbeat. Sit tight.

8 a.m.: The lead in the American League East is on the line Friday night at Fenway Park when the Red Sox welcome in the rival New York Yankees.

With Boston losing and New York winning Thursday, the teams are in a tie atop the division for the first time since June 7. That was early in their last encounter, a three-game sweep for the Red Sox in the Bronx.

Overall, Boston has won eight of the nine meetings between the teams this year.

Jon Lester owns two of those wins, despite giving up seven runs in 13 innings in his two encounters with the Yanks. He gets the ball in the opener opposite New York righty Bartolo Colon, who is 0-2 versus the Red Sox in 2011.

First pitch is 7:10 p.m.

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