YANKEES 11, RED SOX 9
Years ago, New York Yankees fans held a contest on their MLB.com Message Board for a nickname for Jonathan Papelbon and the winning entry was “Papelpoop.”
On Monday night, Yankee fans watched in delight in the ninth inning as Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run home run to tie the game at nine-all and Marcus Thames win the game with his first walk-off home run in his career off the Boston Red Sox reliever they lovingly call Papelpoop.
To quote an old axiom, “It does not get any better than this!”
So after blowing an early 5-0 lead, surviving five Red Sox home runs and left with their last at-bat down 9-7, the Yankees roughed up Papelbon (1-3) for a pair of two-run homers, a double and a hit batter in two-thirds of an inning to beat the Red Sox 11-9 in another classic in the epic rivalry that stands above all others in baseball.
Irony of all ironies, is that the winning pitcher was none other than Javier Vazquez (2-4), who had his scheduled start in Boston skipped and had his turn at home in this series skipped as well, was the winning pitcher.
With Sergio Mitre, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain unavailable to pitch, Vazquez was asked to come in to pitch in the ninth inning to Kevin Youkilis with two out and runners on first and third in what was a 9-7 game. He fanned Youkilis on four pitches and ended up getting the win in relief and also some cheers from Yankee fans for a change.
Papelbon (1-3), who was 9-for-9 in save opportunities coming into the evening, could only say that he was done in by “flat fastballs.” And Rodriguez and Thames flattened them into the bleachers.
The victory improved the Yankees’ season record to 25-13 and kept them two games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East. For the Red Sox, who have a difficult stretch of games coming up the next two weeks, they fell to 19-20 and they are now 8 1/2 games behind the Rays.
- Thames’ dramatic home run one pitch after Papelbon plunked Francisco Cervelli actually overshadowed the fact that Thames had the best game he has had since returning to the Yankees. Thames drove in the fifth run in the Yankees’ early barrage off Daisuke Matsuzaka with a sac fly. Thames also doubled in Cervelli with two out in the fifth inning to give the Yankees a 7-5 lead. Thames was 2-for-4 with four RBIs on the night. Pressed into extended service because of injuries to Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher, Thames is hitting .365 this season.
- A-Rod’s blast came one out after Brett Gardner’s leadoff double and it was the 588th home run of his career. Rodriguez also singled with the bases loaded in the first inning off Matsuzaka to drive in two runs. Rodriguez now leads the Yankees with 31 RBIs. He took the lead from Mark Teixeira (who has 30) with his two-run game-tying blast.
- Give Gardner credit also for his leadoff double. With that hit, Gardner is now 4-for-4 in his career facing Papelbon. Gardner had another Gardner-like night. He was 2-for-4 with a walk, scored three runs and he is now hitting .323 on the season.
- Cervelli also was 2-for-4 on the night, including an RBI double in the first inning. Put into the lineup because of an injury to Jorge Posada, Cervelli stepped right in again. He scored three runs and he is now hitting an even .400.
- Teixiera doubled in Gardner with two outs in the second inning to make the score 6-1. Teixiera has 21 RBIs in May and he has raised his batting average to .224.
- Though he did get into trouble in the ninth inning by allowing a single to Marco Scutaro and walking Dustin Pedroia, Damaso Marte actually pitched a quality 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He usually is a specialty left-hander but he pitched well enough to keep the Red Sox off the board in the eight and ninth innings and set up the ninth inning comeback.
- Phil Hughes did pitch okay considering the Red Sox were determined to get his pitch count up throughout the game. They took strikes up until they had two strikes all night and fouled off as many two-strike pitches they could. Hughes simply ran out gas in the fifth after throwing a combined 18 pitches to Scutaro and Pedroia. J.D. Drew hit a cutter for a three-run home run and Hughes departed with just a 6-5 lead after giving up six hits, one walk and five runs in five innings of work.
- Chan Ho Park was activated before the game and, because of the Red Sox gambit to get Hughes out worked, he was forced to work a second inning when he really had no business pitching that much right off the DL. The Red Sox made him pay with a two-run home run by Youkilis and Victor Martinez followed with his second solo home run of the game to make it 9-7.
- Boone Logan gave up the first home run to Martinez as he led off the sixth inning. After some sparkling work in when he was first called up, Logan lately is having problems with command and his ERA is now 3.86. But with Alfredo Aceves on the disabled list, Logan is needed as a second left-hander out of the bullpen.
Injuries are really starting to take a major toll on the club. The Yankees began the game with four reserves in the starting lineup and three pitchers unavailable to pitch in the game. It had a lot to do with how the Red Sox came back but it also made the comeback that much sweeter. . . . Nick Swisher was out of the starting lineup and did not play on Monday because of his strained left bicep. Though Swisher can bat right-handed, Girardi sat him against the right-hander Matsuzaka. He is available to play in the outfield and pinch-hit as he continues to receive treatment for the injury. . . . The Yankees also scratched Jorge Posada from the starting lineup because of bruised right foot. Posada was struck on the right foot with a foul ball in Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Twins. X-rays showed no broken bones but Posada said the foot was bruised enough to keep him out of the lineup. The Yankees said that Posada is day-to-day. . . . Injured DH Nick Johnson is scheduled to have surgery on Tuesday on his right wrist and it will be a long time before Johnson returns to the lineup. The recovery period after the surgery is four to six weeks and it will take Johnson about a month before he can return to the active roster. So it could be mid-July or August before Johnson is able to come back. He was batting .167 with two home runs and eight RBIs when he was placed on the disabled list for the tenth time in his career. . . . When Park was activated from the disabled list on Monday, Ivan Nova was sent back Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Nova pitched three innings, gave up four hits and had a 0.00 ERA in his two appearances out of the bullpen. . . . The Red Sox fouled off 28 pitches off Hughes and 16 of them came with two strikes. . . . The relief appearance for Vazquez was the third of his career in the regular season. He had two appearances, one of them serving up a grand slam home run to Johnny Damon, in the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. Because Vazquez threw only four pitches, Giradi said he expects Vazquez to be able to make his scheduled start on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field.
THE NEXT GAME
Fresh off their dusting of Papelbon on Monday, putting the Red Sox in a bad position of having to win Tuesday, the Yankees will send ace left-hander CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.71 ERA) to the mound.
Sabathia is coming off a loss to the Tigers in Detroit on Thursday, a game in which he was rocked for nine hits and six runs in six innings. In two previous starts against the Red Sox this season, Sabthia has two no-decisions. He has given up eight runs to the Red Sox in nine innings this season. He is 5-5 with a 3.74 ERA in 13 starts against them in his career.
The Red Sox have their fingers crossed as they will start Josh Beckett (1-1, 7.46 ERA). Beckett not only has been lit up like a Christmas tree all season, he also missed his last start due to back spasms. Beckett is 0-1 against this Yankees in two starts this season, giving up 17 hits and 14 runs over 10 innings. In his last start against the Yankees he tied a career high by giving up nine runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast locally by MY9.