Red Sox keep the slate clean
Win makes them 5-0 vs. Yankees
NEW YORK - The count was 2-and-0 to Ramiro Pena in the sixth inning, the rain falling steadily. Runners were on second and third with the Red Sox leading by a run and just one out. Any misstep could have brought home Nick Swisher with the tying run. So even as the mound became slick, Josh Beckett felt forced to do something.
"I don't think I've ever had a grounds crew come out and fix the mound," Beckett said. "One of those deals where three or four pitches in a row, footing slipped. I had to do what I had to do."
He pressed pause on the game, bringing the crew out to dry the mound, in hopes he could finish out the batter and the inning. Beckett did both, getting Pena swinging for the second out, and following by inducing a ground out from Jose Molina. The Yankees would not score again, the Sox taking a 7-3 win at Yankee Stadium.
"It was wet," catcher Jason Varitek said. "My shoes were caked constantly. My cleats, excuse me. It looks like he was able to settle back in once they repaired things."
The Sox have five wins in five games against the Yankees, Joba Chamberlain's strikeout count notwithstanding.
Chamberlain, finishing with 12 strikeouts in his last 14 outs, went down. Beckett won, buoyed by a four-run first inning for the Sox, along with tack-on runs in the eighth and ninth. It was heartening for Beckett, especially after his last two outings, in which he allowed eight and seven runs.
He had Jason Bay (three-run homer in the first) to thank, as has become the norm in games between these clubs. So those left of the 46,810 in the crowd mostly went home disappointed, as the Sox swept the first two series of any length with New York for the first time since 1971. The last time those two series included at least five games? The year Fenway Park debuted, 1912.
Bay hardly minded the cold or the wet, while his always-freezing manager hunkered down in the dugout. This season vs. the Yankees, he is 10 for 18 with three homers.
"Maybe Canadians," Sox manager Terry Francona said, when asked if Bay's performance made him like hockey any better. "I like Jason Bay. I don't like hockey. I think Jason Bay is the only guy that thought it was a nice night out there."
"He always busts my chops about that," said Bay, a native of Trail, British Columbia. "I'd much rather take this than the 95 and humidity, as weird as that may sound. This is a nice spring/summer day sometimes where I'm from."
After the first inning, Chamberlain wasn't giving up much. He had channeled Roger Clemens in striking out those career-high 12, with only a fly out from Jacoby Ellsbury in the second and a ground out from Mike Lowell in the third to break up the string of K's.
Chamberlain allowed the first five batters in the Sox order to get on, all by hits. Ellsbury led off with a single to center, then stole second. Dustin Pedroia followed with a single to left, then David Ortiz singled to center, scoring Ellsbury.
Chamberlain then watched Bay come to the plate as the cleanup hitter, subbing for Chamberlain nemesis Kevin Youkilis. Perhaps he might have preferred the first baseman. Because Bay blasted another pitch to left, described by Varitek this way: "He crushed it and it went out by about three rows. The weather conditions weren't favorable."
After a three-run homer by Johnny Damon in the third cut into that lead, Melky Cabrera lashed a double down the right-field line into the corner with one out in the fourth.
Right fielder J.D. Drew snapped up the ball and made a strong throw to cutoff man Pedroia, who made an even stronger throw to Lowell. It cut down Cabrera, as he slid into the base. On the next play, Jeff Bailey allowed a grounder to first base to get past him for a two-base error - which would have tied the game had Cabrera been safe.
"I didn't think he was going to go for three," Pedroia said, "and then I kind of heard the crowd's reaction, so that kind of meant he was going. So that kind of helped me out."