Perfect comeback by Sox
Yankees can’t answer a late rally this time
NEW YORK — The motion came from Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell on the mound. As Josh Beckett stood there, looking on, it was indicated to plate umpire Angel Campos that the starter would not continue. He had felt tightness in his lower back on a pitch to Alex Rodriguez, and was done for the night. It was only then, as the call was made for reliever Manny Delcarmen, that manager Terry Francona and a trainer started to jog toward the mound.
It was a strange scene, one that clearly didn’t sit well with the Yankees. Moments later, it was announced the Yankees were playing the game under protest, as they believed there had been no indication that Beckett was injured before his removal and Delcarmen shouldn’t have gotten unlimited warmups.
Just another day in the rivalry.
And yet, even with Beckett leaving before the end of the fifth, even with the Yankees rushing to a second straight five-run lead behind CC Sabathia, the Sox showed a bit of resiliency. As Francona said, “There was a lot that happened. I think that’s probably the understatement. You can start wherever you want. The finish is that we won.’’
Yes, they came back, winning, 7-6. For the second straight night, the Sox roared back to take the lead in the late innings. But last night, unlike Monday night, they were able to hold onto that lead — barely — pushing themselves up to .500 with a a split of the two-game series in the Bronx.
They escaped, as Jonathan Papelbon stranded the tying run on third and the winning run on second, striking out Randy Winn to end the game. It was four hours and nine minutes after it had started, and the Sox took a breath and kept themselves from falling to 10 back in the loss column in the division.
The Yankees’ Marcus Thames went from Monday night’s hero to last night’s goat, allowing a ball off the bat of Marco Scutaro to slip through his arms on an ill-advised attempted basket catch in right field in the ninth. That put men on first and second, and they moved up on a groundout. Up came Jeremy Hermida, in for J.D. Drew, who had felt an issue with his right hamstring. And it was Hermida, yet again with two outs, doubling over the head of Winn to score the tie-breaking runs off Mariano Rivera, making it 7-5.
As Francona said, “It was cold, so we got [Drew] out of there. Ended up being the best thing I did all night.
“They’ve been productive at-bats [for Hermida]. I don’t know how many are with two outs, but it’s a lot. So they seem even bigger.’’
Though the Yankees entered the eighth inning up by four, the Sox got four in the frame, starting with an error on Rodriguez. Three straight hits off Joba Chamberlain followed, a single by Dustin Pedroia, an RBI double by Drew, and a two-RBI single by Kevin Youkilis. But the Sox still trailed by one as David Ortiz stepped to the plate. He lofted a ball to right-center that hit off the wall, which Brett Gardner grabbed and threw to second to catch Ortiz, who was slow out of the box admiring a ball he thought was a home run. But the single scored Youkilis with the tying run.
“We had good swings,’’ Francona said, of the Sox results against Chamberlain. “He elevated some balls, and we had some good swings. It happened quick.’’
There was little else that happened quickly. After the teams endured a 59-minute rain delay, and conditions that could charitably be called miserable, there was Beckett walking off the mound with an apparent injury in the fifth. The exit was, in some ways, the last thing the team needed, the last thing fans wanted to see. Not that Beckett has exactly been himself this season, the leader and ace the Sox signed to a four-year, $68 million contract extension earlier this year.
He gave up five runs over 4 2/3 innings. Then he was gone, his back having tightened up as he threw a splitter to Rodriguez. Francona said the team would get the back looked at today, after giving it time to calm down.
“It was just the pitch to Rodriguez that he flew out to left on,’’ Beckett said. “Footing just slipped, and it just got tighter and tighter after that. It wasn’t something that was getting tight throughout the game. It was that one pitch, and then it got tighter and tighter for the next six or seven pitches.’’
That led to the protest.
“That doesn’t mean anything,’’ Francona said.
Beckett had missed his last start, which had been scheduled for Friday in Detroit, after he suffered back spasms while taking batting practice in preparation for interleague play. And the Sox had already pushed him back in the rotation before that, to give him an extra side session to try to work out some issues. It’s clear they haven’t been solved.
“It was a little bit different than that,’’ Beckett said of last week’s injury. “I don’t think it’s as severe. The fact that it happened on one pitch, it’s frustrating again. We just have to see.’’
He said he would like to try to make his next start.
Over his last five starts, consuming nearly a month of the season, Beckett has allowed at least five runs in each, with the exception a seven-inning, two-run effort against the Orioles. Though last night, the five runs allowed weren’t entirely his fault, with two of them unearned, a fact that lowered his ERA to 7.29 from 7.46.
After a clean first inning, Beckett was victimized by an error by shortstop Scutaro that allowed Robinson Cano to reach and move Rodriguez to second. The pitcher then loaded the bases with a walk to Thames, bringing up Juan Miranda. The rookie singled to right, bringing in the first run. That was followed by an RBI groundout by Winn to put the Yankees up, 2-0.
It was Miranda again in the fourth, as his home run dropped into the Yankees bullpen for their third run. Two more came in the fifth, both on the double by Cano that signaled the end of the line for Beckett. It was after that last pitch to Cano that Beckett was injured — or, in the minds of the Yankees, not injured.
The Sox were down. But, unlike in so many games this season, not out.
“That’s a hard way to play the game,’’ Francona said. “You’ve got Joba and Mariano coming in. There’s nothing else to do but to keep playing. We did that. We made some mistakes, but we didn’t allow it to cost us the game tonight.’’