Rapid reaction: Red Sox 6, Yankees 0

May, 14, 2011
5/14/11
10:40
PM ET
NEW YORK -- This wasn’t quite on the level with the bizarre spectacle of Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin fighting in the visitors’ dugout in Fenway Park 30-some-odd years ago, but for pinstriped chaos during a Red Sox game, it is a worthy successor.

Boston’s 6-0 win over the Yankees, crafted on the strength of another beauty by Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez’s fifth home run in the last four games, and a two-run double by Jacoby Ellsbury, was overshadowed by the melodrama that took place before the game on the Yankee side.

A little more than an hour before the first pitch, the Yankees tersely announced that Jorge Posada had been scratched as their designated hitter, only a short time after manager Joe Girardi had announced that the slumping Posada had been dropped to the ninth spot in the order.

At first, the Yankees gave no reason for why Posada wasn’t playing, but it wasn’t long before all precincts were weighing in, with rumors flying that the 39-year-old Posada might call it quits.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that Posada took himself out of the lineup and would speak to the media after the game. Posada’s father told Jack Curry of the YES Network that his son made a mistake and shouldn’t have pulled himself out of the game. Posada’s wife went on Twitter and Facebook to declare that her husband had a stiff back, which is why he didn’t play. New York Post columnist Joel Sherman noted that Posada had taken ground balls at first base and had seemed fine. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Yankees were in touch with the commissioner’s office to determine what punitive action they could take for the apparent insubordination.

Meanwhile, Girardi, the one who will be in the crosshairs of what is sure to be a monumental distraction -- besides being a Yankee mainstay, Posada is best friends with Yankee captain Derek Jeter -- found no comfort in turning his attention to the field. When he came to remove Yankee starter CC Sabathia after he’d given up Gonzalez’s home run in the seventh, Girardi was ejected by plate umpire Mike Winters. Valium, anyone?

Just Joshin’: Beckett was just as dominating against the Yankees as he had been back in April in Fenway Park, when he shut out the Yankees on two hits over eight innings while striking out 10. This time it was 6 innings of four-hit shutout ball, Beckett rebuffing the Yankees’ best chance in the first inning. After singles by Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson to open the Yankees’ first, Beckett struck out Mark Teixeira, retired Alex Rodriguez on a foul pop fly and struck out Robinson Cano.

Beckett struck out A-Rod again with two on to end the third, then got Granderson to pop out and Teixeira to whiff on a diving changeup with two on and one out in the fifth. Beckett now has a 1.75 ERA but this was only his third win against one loss in eight starts, and first W since April 16, when he beat the Blue Jays.

"Solid outing,'' manager Terry Francona said. "Struggled a little bit in the first inning, but kind of like CC, pitched his way out of it, then got locked in. That's probably the best cutter we've seen in a while. Change-up, used all his pitches. We were going to send him back out for the seventh, but once we added on, it didn't seem like [the thing to do)] Turned it over to [Matt] Albers.''

Beckett was asked about the April start against the Bombers and whether that had been the catalyst to the success he has been having.

"I don't know, I try not to look too far behind,'' he said. "I know you guys want answers about the past, and the future and everything like that. I really got nothing.

"It's nice to pitch good. It's a lot more fun to come to the ballpark the next day. We always joke about the best feeling in baseball is being the winning pitcher yesterday. Because generally when you're a starter, you come in, get your workout in, and basically have a really good seat for a baseball game.''

Mr. Durable: Ellsbury, who had whacked his knee sliding into second base while stealing in the ninth inning the night before, informed Francona early Saturday morning he was good to go, earning the manager’s praise pregame for staying in the lineup. Then he went out and broke a scoreless tie with his opposite-field, two-run double off Sabathia in the fifth. Ellsbury had managed just one hit in 14 previous career at-bats against the Yankees left-hander.

A new Yankee killer: Gonzalez had looked overmatched in his first three at-bats against Sabathia, chasing a neck-high fastball to strike out in the first inning, breaking his bat on a ground ball in the fourth, and hitting into a rally-killing DP in the fifth after the Yankees intentionally walked Dustin Pedroia to face him.

But after Jason Varitek had singled home Mike Cameron (walk) to make it 3-0 and Dustin Pedroia followed with another base hit, Gonzalez unloaded on CC with a no-doubter into the right-center field seats. That increased his AL-leading RBI total to 34.

Batting ninth, with dignity: While Posada apparently balked at having to hit ninth for the first time in 12 years, Varitek, who began the night hitting even worse than his Yankee counterpart (.154), played a vital role in the Sox victory, and from the same ninth spot that Posada evidently wanted no part of. Varitek came up with two on and one out in the fifth and drew a four-pitch walk that loaded the bases for Ellsbury’s two-run double, then singled home Cameron in the seventh.

Series won, now .500?: The Sox, assured of winning the series by taking the first two games, now send Jon Lester to the mound Sunday night against Freddy Garcia. A win would propel the Sox to the .500 mark for the first time this season. They’ve failed to win on the previous three occasions they could have drawn even.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have lost a season-high four straight games and four of their first five meetings against the Red Sox in 2011. In Lester, the Yankees are facing another pitcher, like Beckett, who has held them scoreless the last two times he faced them. Lester did not pitch against the Yankees in Fenway Park in April, but in his last two starts against them in 2010 threw 13 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just 6 hits and 6 walks while whiffing 14.

According to ESPN researcher Mark Simon, only two pitchers since 1920 have had more than two starts (6 innings or more) in which they held the Yankees scoreless: Britt Burns (four straight, 1981-1982) and Schoolboy Rowe (three straight, all shutouts, 1934-1935).

The Sox, incidentally, now have the same record after 39 games (19-20) that they did last season.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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