Red Sox split doubleheader
After deflating opener, Red Sox take nightcap
It’s fair to say that relatively few in the crowd at Fenway Park Saturday night were familiar with the players wearing Nos. 77 and 50 for the home team.
Pedro Ciriaco and Mauro Gomez are career minor leaguers, added to the Red Sox roster out of desperation in recent days when injuries continued to mount.
Now they are the latest heroes in baseball’s best rivalry.
Ciriaco and Gomez provided the energy that gave Red Sox a 9-5 victory against the Yankees and a split of the day-night doubleheader.
Ciriaco, playing in his second game for the Sox after being called up Friday, had four hits, scored two runs, and drove in four others. His three-run double in the sixth inning gave the Red Sox a lead they held.
“Keep it simple and try to have fun. The game is about having fun,” Ciriaco said.
The fans were chanting “Pedro, Pedro” by the seventh inning. That was something new for a 26-year-old player whose career highlight was starting four games for the Pirates last season before being released.
“It was amazing. It was a good feeling,” Ciriaco said. “That was my first time. It was a big surprise.”
Gomez, added to the roster Tuesday, had three hits, scored two runs, and contributed one RBI.
It was the Sox’ first victory against the Yankees in five games this season. The Yankees committed four errors that led to two unearned runs.
The victory also snapped the Sox’ five-game losing streak.
“Every victory is important,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “It’s good to beat these guys and it’s good to come back. It seemed like they were going to score early and keep us down. The guys were determined to come up off the floor.”
Felix Doubront (9-4) went 6⅓ innings for the win. He allowed a three-run homer by Mark Teixeira in the first inning then only one run the rest of the way.
“He was determined,” Valentine said. “I talked to him and said, ‘We’re going to score runs, if you want to win just hold them.’ We scored runs, he wanted to win, and he held them.”
Said Doubront: “I just wanted to give us a chance to win the game. I knew we could score some runs.”
Trailing, 3-2, after five innings, the Sox scored three runs in the sixth in Ciriaco’s double down the line in left and then four in the seventh. Ryan Sweeney, activated off the disabled list before the game, had an RBI triple. He then scored on a double by Gomez. Ciriaco followed with an RBI double.
Gomez is 7 of 13 in the last three games. He also has three errors at third base filling in for Will Middlebrooks. But the offense has negated that.
“I believe in him as a hitter. I don’t know that he’s going to be our everyday third baseman because Will is coming back . . . He’s a hitter and it’s good to have hitters,” Valentine said.
In the first game, the Yankees hit four home runs off Franklin Morales, two by Andruw Jones.
Josh Beckett allowed five runs in the first inning Friday night, a game the Red Sox lost, 10-8. On Saturday, Morales (1-2) was down 4-0 six batters into the game.
It’s part of a troubling trend. Red Sox starters have a 6.59 earned run average in the first inning, well above the league average of 4.61. Nearly every starter has struggled at the start of the game.
“I think we should, yeah,” Valentine said when asked if it was something that has to be addressed. “I think we have, but I think we should address it even more.”
Pitching coach Bob McClure pointed out that the Red Sox pitched extremely well during their seven-game trip to Seattle and Oakland. The starters allowed two first-inning runs in the seven games.
“If you’re mislocating and getting behind in the count and you’re still trying to establish your fastball against a fastball-hitting team that is as good as [the Yankees] are and you mislocate it, they hit it pretty hard.”
They sure did Saturday.
Derek Jeter, as he so often does, led off the game with a single. With two outs and chance to get out of the inning, Morales threw a two-seam fastball inside on Robinson Cano. It rode up and hit him.
“That’s my best pitch to a lefty and I missed it,” Morales said.
What could have been a successful, tone-setting first inning took a sharp turn when Nick Swisher homered into the back row of the Monster seats. Jones followed with a blast the same way and the Yankees had a 4-0 lead.
Hitting Cano led to four runs and 13 extra pitches for Morales.
Valentine said he was perplexed as to why the Sox give up so many runs in the first inning.
“If there was a solution, it would be solved. Bob McClure’s down there warming them up and bringing them in. They have a game plan,” he said. “It just seems that a lot of guys struggle in the first inning, boy.”
Morales allowed back-to-back home runs again in the fourth inning as Jones and Jayson Nix connected. That gave the Yankees a 6-0 lead.
Morales allowed four earned runs on 14 hits over 18 innings in his first three starts. The Yankees battered him for six runs on six hits in 3⅓ innings.
“I wasn’t thinking too much. I tried to make my pitch and today I missed. I lost the command of the first pitch for a strike,” Morales said. “That’s going to happen, that’s the game.”
As Morales endured his first bad start of the season, Freddy Garcia (3-2) cruised through a skeleton lineup.
Along with Ciriaco and Gomez, backup catcher Kelly Shoppach played, as did Brent Lillibridge for only the second time since he was obtained from the White Sox. He was in right field.
Ryan Kalish, who was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket after the game, started in center.