YANKEES 5, RED SOX 2
Ramiro Pena was just shagging fly balls in right field during batting practice at Yankee Stadium when Alex Rodriguez was struck below the left knee by a ball off the bat of Lance Berkman.
A short time after Rodriguez limped off the field for X-rays, Pena chipped in two RBIs in place of the All-Star third baseman. Meanwhile, CC Sabathia shackled the Boston Red Sox on two runs over eight innings for his 14th victory as the Yankees defeated their big rivals 5-2 on Saturday.
The victory dealt a serious blow to the hopes of the Red Sox reclaiming a spot back in the running for the American League East championship. With the four-game series tied at a game apiece, the third-place Red Sox fell back to the same six games back they were when the series started.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who started the day a half-game back of the Yankees in second place, fell to a eight-homer barrage by the Toronto Blue Jays for a 17-11 beating that left them 1 1/2 games in arrears.
Sabathia (14-5) gave up only six hits and a walk while striking out four batters in recording the 150th victory of his career. Sabathia struggled in the second inning, giving up a solo home run to Victor Martinez and back-to-back doubles by Adrian Beltre and Mike Lowell.
After that Sabathia retired 17 of the next 21 batters he faced before handing off the game to Mariano Rivera to pitch the ninth inning. Rivera needed only eight pitches to complete a perfect frame and notch his 23rd save in 25 chances.
Pena, meanwhile, keyed the Yankees five-run attack on right-hander John Lackey (10-7) with a RBI groundout that tied the game at two in the second inning and he completed the scoring for the Yankees with an RBI single in the sixth inning.
Curtis Granderson contributed two hits, including an RBI triple in the second inning. Robinson Cano broke the tie in the fifth inning with a two-out RBI single and Jorge Posada followed with an RBI single of his own.
- Pena, who entered the game batting only .204, played a major role in the offense batting ninth. Pena’s two RBIs give him 13 RBIs in 96 at-bats this season. In a 500 at-bat season that would project to 71 RBIs.
- Sabathia clamped down on the Red Sox after the home run and two doubles he gave up to start the second inning. The Red Sox managed only a clean single to left by Marco Scutaro to open the third inning, an infield single by Beltre with two out in the sixth and a walk to J.D. Drew to open the seventh.
- Granderson, who has been underachieving all season long, stepped up with two hits, two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base. His steal in the sixth inning set up final run for the Yankees. On his steal of second, the throw from Martinez sailed past Scutaro and rolled into center-field, allowing Granderson to take third. He then scored on Pena’s single to right.
- Cano, batting fourth in place of Rodriguez, broke the tie in the fifth on a lined single to right to score Nick Swisher. Cano was 2-for-3 with a walk and is now hitting .332, fifth in the league. He is also third on the team with 73 RBIs.
- Brett Gardner is looking lost and overmatched at the plate. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, two of them looking. In his last eight games, Gardner is 1-for-22 (.045) and his average has dropped from .300 to .283.
- Derek Jeter, who was just beginning to show some signs of life at the plate, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Lance Berkman, who was the DH in the game, is already hearing the boo birds at Yankee Stadium. Though he walked and scored a run, he was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and did not get a ball out of the infield. He is 2-for-22 (.091) in pinstripes and the natives are getting restless for him to produce like he did in Houston.
- Pena allowed a ball off the bat of Darnell McDonald play him in the fifth inning for his third error of the season. Sabathia retired the next three hitters in order and it did not result in a run.
The X-rays on Rodriguez came back negative and Rodriguez is listed as day-to-day. FOX broadcaster Joe Buck was in the visitors’ dugout and waved to Rodriguez as the third baseman was taking infield grounders. Rodriguez waved back and then was struck on the left knee with a ball off the bat of Berkman. Rodriguez screamed in pain, tried to walk it off and then collapsed to the turf in pain. Manager Joe Girardi said he did not expect Rodriguez to play on Sunday and was unsure when he would be able to return to the lineup. . . . Andy Pettitte is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday. The left-hander, who is on the 15-day DL with a strained left groin, is expected to throw a simulated game last next week and then could be sent out on a rehab start before being activated in two weeks.
THE NEXT GAME
The Yankees’ victory on Saturday dealt a serious blow to the plans of the limping Red Sox, who were out for a four-game sweep. The Yankees have a chance to deal another serious blow on Sunday night.
The Yankees will send right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.93 ERA) to the hill. Burnett was blasted for eight runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays last week. Before that the mercurial Burnett had tossed 11 straight scoreless innings. In his career he is 5-3 with a 4.92 ERA against the Red Sox.
Burnett’s opponent will be Josh Beckett (3-1, 5.70 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in three starts since being activated from the disabled list. Beckett gave up one run and three hits over eight innings against the Indians last week. He is 9-6 with a 5.95 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 8 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN.