Scutaro delivers in the clutch
His two-run double helps polish off win
The game had yet to reach its crescendo, but Marco Scutaro had already been preparing to deliver the big cymbal clash.
In three previous plate appearances against Yankees starter CC Sabathia, the Red Sox shortstop did his best to produce out of the No. 9 hole in the lineup, reaching base all three times on a pair of walks and a sharp single to center.
But when he came up in the seventh inning to face Joba Chamberlain with the bases loaded and one out, Scutaro knew this was his big moment. After the Sox had left six runners in scoring position through the first six innings, Scutaro knew it was time to deliver.
Maestro, cue the cymbals.
Scutaro, who had entered the finale of the home-opening series against the Yanks 0 for 4 with one run and an RBI, delivered the crowning blow of last night’s 4-0 victory before a Fenway Park crowd of 37,861 when he tore into a 94-mile-per-hour fastball from Chamberlain and scorched it to left field. The two-run double made him 9 for 16 with the bases loaded as a member of the Sox.
“After the first pitch was a slider, I was looking for something to hit,’’ said Scutaro. “I was looking for a fastball.’’
Scutaro’s hit scored David Ortiz and J.D. Drew, who both walked, and helped the Sox gain some much-needed breathing room with a 3-0 lead. After hitting .300 in 18 spring games (15 for 50, 3 doubles, 1 homer, 4 RBIs, 6 walks), Scutaro went into a season-opening tailspin at the plate, going 0 for 11 in his first three games.
Last night, though, he seemed to turn the tide. Scutaro is 5 for 12 with three walks and four RBIs in his last four games.
“It was a big hit not just for him, but for us,’’ said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “A big spot in the game and it kind of blew it open a little bit. The way we were pitching that’s all we needed.’’
After Josh Beckett made a 1-0 lead stand by throwing eight scoreless innings, Scutaro’s hit provided insurance in delivering Beckett his first win of the season.
“He did a great job tonight,’’ Scutaro said of Beckett’s performance, which included 10 strikeouts. “He was locating all his pitches real good and he had a great two-seamer and the ball was moving around. That was the normal Josh Beckett.’’
So what did it look like from his vantage point in the infield?
“Nasty,’’ Scutaro said. “I mean, he didn’t give those guys too many pitches to hit. When you keep them to two hits, that’s saying a lot.’’
But Scutaro’s clutch hit spoke volumes about his ability to produce from the No. 9 spot when it mattered most.
“It feels good to come through,’’ Scutaro said. “This time it felt really good, just because of the situation we’re in right now.’’
While taking two out of three from the Yankees was a step in the right direction, Scutaro knows the Sox have much more work to do to erase their 0-6 start.
“You have 162 games and you’re going to have losing streaks sooner or later — or the middle of the season — somewhere,’’ he said. “It’s just a matter of time before you get everyone clicking. We have too much talent on this team. All we have to do is ask God to keep us healthy.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.