After a night of no sleep for manager Terry Francona, it was an afternoon of discontent for the Red Sox, and another day of resurgence for the New York Yankees.
Manny Ramírez returned to the Sox lineup, the team having struck an uneasy truce with their reluctant slugger that required locked clubhouse doors before the game while Francona - who said he learned late Friday night that Ramírez would play after missing the previous two games with what he said was a sore right knee - conducted meetings with other players to inform them of the current state of affairs.
There was no disciplinary action, no trade, no ultimatums, and no offense from the Sox left fielder, who went hitless in four trips while hearing a mixture of boos and cheers from the crowd of 37,225 during Boston's 10-3 loss to the Yankees, who drew to within a game of Boston with their eighth straight win, second in two days against the suddenly punchless Sox.
How much of a distraction has the Ramírez affair been?
"I don't know," said third baseman Mike Lowell. "That's a great question for Manny."
There also was a moment of apparent retaliation in the eighth inning, when Sox reliever Craig Hansen drilled Yankee cleanup man Alex Rodriguez in the left arm with a head-high fastball that came in at 97 or 98 miles an hour, depending on the radar gun. Rodriguez was hit a day after Kevin Youkilis narrowly missed being hit by a high-octane fastball from Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, the fourth time in three games Youkilis has been at the plate when Chamberlain's aim has turned suspect.
Warnings were issued to both benches by umpire Derryl Cousins, just as they had been issued the night before, and Rodriguez, who was staggered by Hansen's pitch but took his base, was replaced in the bottom of the eighth by Wilson Betemit.
"I have no idea," Rodriguez, who was hit just above his left triceps, said when asked if Hansen's pitch came with a purpose. "I'm just happy we won the game."
Johnny Damon was less sanguine about the intent.
"You'd have to ask them, but we understand it's part of baseball," Damon said. "We understand Youk's not happy. It's part of the game. Both teams go out and we play hard, try to play the game the right way. Unfortunately, Youk's got a lot of pitches up and in on him and unfortunately Alex got hit."
The Sox, who scored two unearned runs in the first, courtesy of a Rodriguez error, managed only one more run, on J.D. Drew's 19th home run in the sixth off Yankee starter Andy Pettitte, and have scored fewer runs since the All-Star break (25 in eight games) than any team in the American League while going 3-5. The wins came against Seattle, the team with the worst record in the league. The Sox were swept last weekend in Anaheim, Calif., by the Angels, who lead the AL West, and are in danger of being swept by the Bombers, who have outscored opponents, 49-15, while winning all of their games since the break.
"We were talking about that for most of the day today," Francona said. "It seems sometimes like scoring runs is pretty difficult. When I have a better answer, you'll see more runs.
"We come out of the chute today, turn an error into a couple of runs. Then Pettitte got his cutter going, and we didn't do much after that. Besides J.D. taking one of the prettiest swings you'll ever see, we didn't have a whole lot going for us. We made him work, but we didn't square up many balls today."
So, while the Ramírez affair has undoubtedly proven a huge distraction - and, just as in previous trading-deadline melodramas involving him, is highly unlikely to result in a trade -the current offensive slowdown cannot be laid solely at his feet. Ramírez had hit safely in his previous 11 games (19 for 39, .487) until being shut down yesterday.
"If it is, it's an excuse that we don't choose to make," Francona said of the Manny-as-a-distraction issue. "We've been through a lot here. I don't think that was much of an issue."
David Ortiz singled home a run in the first, his first RBI since coming back from a nearly eight-week stint on the disabled list. He also had a broken-bat single in the fifth, but with two runners on base in the seventh, he whiffed on four pitches by Yankee newcomer Damaso Marte, the lefthanded reliever obtained for just that purpose.
Drew's home run, which carried far over the Sox' bullpen, is Boston's only extra-base hit in two games since returning from their West Coast swing. Ramírez was credited with an RBI with his first inning fielder's choice. He also lined to left, hit into a double play, and stranded two in the seventh with a routine fly to center.
Pettitte, winning his 12th game, allowed just five hits and three walks while striking out seven in his six innings. Yankees starters have limited opponents to three runs or fewer in 15 of their last 16 outings.
The Yankees, meanwhile, had 13 hits. Tim Wakefield gave up a run in the third on Bobby Abreu's two-out single after a walk and wild pitch put Jose Molina in scoring position. Robinson Cano's ninth home run to start the fourth tied the score, and Melky Cabrera beat out a bunt, stole second, and scored on Damon's single to make it 3-2 in the same inning.
A walk, Cabrera's double, and a hit batsman loaded the bases in the sixth, and Damon's force play made it 4-2 and had Francona waving to his bullpen. But Justin Masterson, who had retired all eight batters he faced in his relief debut in Seattle, couldn't get a man out here, as Derek Jeter singled, Abreu doubled, and Rodriguez singled to break it open.
The Yankees piled on against a wild Hansen (three walks, a hit batsman, and a wild pitch) in the eighth.
"We'll figure it out," said Dustin Pedroia, who batted leadoff yesterday in place of slumping rookie Jacoby Ellsbury. "But we'd better figure it out soon."