The New York Yankees came into the game Tuesday night with the Boston Red Sox just one game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East. That in and of itself should have been enough incentive to get the Yankees pumped. Having a depleted and not so dangerous Red Sox team opposite them should have had them salivating. Instead they played back on their heels and the Red Sox looked like a team that wanted it more as the Yankees again fell into a tie for first-place with the Orioles after a 4-3 loss at Fenway Park.
Jon Lester couldn’t find the plate walking seven batters in 5 1/3 innings, but the Yankees couldn’t get anything off of him until Derek Jeter hit a ground-rule double with men on second and third scoring both runners which gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the sixth. They should have had much more and their chances ended once Lester departed as the Boston bullpen finished off the game allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out four. The Yankees went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position all while Lester was on the mound.
Despite the ineptitude from the offense, the Yankees had the lead twice, but Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda gave both away. The Yankees went ahead 1-0 in the first inning on a RBI ground out by Robinson Cano. The Red Sox scored two in the third inning on RBI singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. In the bottom half of the sixth inning Pedroia hit a solo home run, part of a 3-for-4 night for the Red Sox second baseman.
The Yankees received some good relief work from Joba Chamberlain who came in with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh after the Red Sox put together three at-bats in the inning with no balls leaving the infield. Chamberlain got the final two outs without allowing a run.
David Robertson pitched an electric eighth inning striking out the side. The Yankees went quietly in their half of the ninth and Robertson was sent back out by Joe Girardi for the bottom of the inning. He got the first out and then allowed a seeing-eye single on a ball in the dirt to Pedro Ciriaco who is now 18-for-35 against the Yankees this season. Then Mike Aviles hit a ball deep in the hole at shortstop which Jeter could only grab and hold onto putting runners at first and second. Ellsbury drilled a single to right field scoring Ciriaco, sending the Red Sox streaming onto the field with their 2nd win in 13 games.
While the Yankees were blowing this game, the Orioles took it to the Tampa Bay Rays by the score of 9-2. The Yankees (79-62) will hope to bounce back Wednesday night with rookie David Phelps (3-4, 3.55 ERA) on the hill. He faces Aaron Cook (3-9, 5.17 ERA) who has a .294 batting average against for the season. Is that enough to get the Yankees fire going? They better hope so, or else they will be looking up in the standings soon enough.