It’s another first-rate win
Sox blast Yankees, move atop AL East
NEW YORK — The difference between the Red Sox and Yankees right now was clearly illustrated with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning last night.
With the Red Sox up by seven runs, Tim Wakefield threw a pitch to Brett Gardner that was grounded into the hole at first base. The only play for Adrian Gonzalez was to flip the ball over to the bag and hope Wakefield could catch up to it.
The 44-year-old pitcher beat one of the fastest players in the game to the spot, getting the out by half a step as Gardner dove. Wakefield tripped over Gardner and tumbled head over heels onto the grass.
“We almost had to get a wheelbarrow to get him,’’ manager Terry Francona said.
A little dazed, Wakefield got up and worked into the sixth inning as the Red Sox again beat the Yankees, 11-6, before a crowd of 47,863.
It was 90 degrees at first pitch. But that’s not why the Yankees are sweating. The Sox have won five straight and have moved into first place alone, a game ahead of their rivals.
The Sox are 7-1 against the Yankees this season, outscoring them, 52-34. They have won 12 of 15 in the series dating to last season.
The Red Sox are 5-0 in New York this season and will try for their second consecutive three-game sweep tonight with Josh Beckett on the mound against CC Sabathia.
Wakefield (3-1) allowed five runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings but that was good enough for his 196th career victory. That’s the most among active pitchers.
“I think I pitched better than the results,’’ Wakefield said, mentioning the lack of hard-hit balls by the Yankees. “I think I pitched pretty well.’’
J.D. Drew homered and drove in three runs for the Red Sox. Carl Crawford and David Ortiz also homered while Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits. The Red Sox collected 11 hits and eight walks against three Yankees pitchers.
“We played really good as a team,’’ Wakefield said. “We’re in June now and games are starting to mean a little more. We’re playing good baseball right now.’’
Alfredo Aceves came up big for the Sox again. The former Yankees righthander threw 3 2/3 innings of relief for the save. He has a 3.29 ERA in 16 appearances.
At 35-26, the Sox are nine games over .500 for the first time this season. They have won 10 of their last 14.
The kind of hustle showed by Wakefield to get Gardner is a reason the Sox have recovered from their 2-10 start.
“I needed to get there quick and I was able to get there on time,’’ he said. “Gonzo made a great feed to me. It was one of those plays where I had to go right at the bag.’’
Wakefield’s leg hit Gardner on the helmet, leaving the pitcher in a heap.
“I’ll tell you later,’’ Wakefield told Gardner when asked if he was OK.
Said Drew: “I watched Wake when I was in high school. It’s fun to play with him and play behind him.’’
One reason the Yankees liked A.J. Burnett so much as a free agent during the winter of 2008 was his performance against the Sox while a member of the Blue Jays. Burnett was 5-0 in eight starts with a 2.56 earned run average.
But he left something behind in customs. Since joining the Yankees, Burnett has faced the Sox eight times and is 0-4 with an 8.71 ERA.
Last night was especially ugly.
Ellsbury, who homered to start the game Tuesday, settled for a single this time. He stole second and trotted to third when Francisco Cervelli threw the ball into center field.
Gonzalez drove in Ellsbury with a grounder to second.
Ellsbury is 16 for 45 (.356) with 10 stolen bases in the first inning this season.
Kevin Youkilis walked with two outs in the inning before Ortiz lined his second home run in as many nights, a rocket to right field. After raising the ire of Yankees manager Joe Girardi Tuesday by flipping his bat, Ortiz was a gentleman slugger and just laid it down this time.
Marco Scutaro copied Ellsbury in the second inning. He singled, stole second and went to third on a Cervelli throwing error. Drew’s line-drive out to center field made it 4-0.
The lead grew to 7-0 in the fourth. Varitek drove in a run with a groundout. Ellsbury followed with an RBI double and Dustin Pedroia with an RBI single.
Burnett got the first two outs of the sixth then walked Varitek. Boone Logan came in and allowed a single by Ellsbury before walking Pedroia and Gonzalez to force in a run.
The Yankees chipped away at Wakefield, cutting the lead to 8-5 in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Aceves got Derek Jeter to ground into a double play. It was the biggest pitch of the game.
“That was huge,’’ Varitek said. “They were coming back.’’
From there, the Sox poured it on as Crawford and Drew homered in the ninth.