The battle of aces between Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and Sox lefty Jon Lester never materialized as Lester couldn’t live up to his end of the billing and the Yankees pummeled the Sox, 9-3, in their series opener at Fenway Park Tuesday night.
Lester lasted just 4 2/3 innings, giving up eight runs, three earned, on 11 hits and four walks with seven strikeouts. He allowed four of five batters leading off an inning to reach base – three with base hits, one on a walk. Three of the four eventually came around to score.
Lester was hurt by two errors from his defense, leading to five unearned runs. A.J. Pierzynski’s passed ball and throwing error on Derek Jeter led to one of two runs in the first being unearned. All four runs Lester gave up in the fifth inning – all with two outs — were unearned after Brian Roberts lined a ball that deflected off Mike Napoli’s glove for one of the errors.
But Lester didn’t help himself, giving up three consecutive doubles to Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann to open the third. Soriano and Teixeira eventually scored in the inning.
Lester fell to 2-3, while his ERA rose from 2.17 to 2.67.
Meanwhile, the Sox had little answer for Tanaka, who went 7 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, including two home runs, with no walks and seven strikeouts. He improved to 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA.
In his return to Fenway Park for the first time since joining the Yankees as a free agent in the offseason, Jacoby Ellsbury reminded the Sox what it was they appreciated about him. He went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI. He opened the game with a fan-interference triple and ended Lester’s night with a two-run double in the fifth.
The Sox fell to 9-12, 3 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Yankees, who are 12-9.
• Masahiro Tanaka handcuffed the Red Sox, allowing just one base runner – Dustin Pedroia on a first-inning double – before David Ortiz and Mike Napoli hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth. It was the Sox’ first back-to-back home runs since July 30, 2013, against eh Mariners when Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia did so.
• Although Chris Capuano gave up an inherited run, Sox relievers combined to give up one run in 4 1/3 innings, when Edward Mujica gave up an eighth-inning home run to Carlos Beltran. Sox relievers have allowed just five earned runs in 40 innings over the last 12 games for a 1.13 ERA., lowering their overall ERA to 2.20.
• Jon Lester went 4 2/3 innings, giving up eight runs – just three earned – on 11 hits and four walks with seven strikeouts. He needed 118 pitches (76 strikes). It was the most runs he has given up since July 22, 2012, when he gave up 11 (all earned) on nine hits in four innings against the Blue Jays. Lester had given up a total of nine runs in his previous four starts spanning 29 innings.
It was his shortest outing since Aug. 2, 2013, when he lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on 11 hits against the Diamondbacks.
• Red Sox pitchers tied their season-high in a nine-inning game, allowing 15 hits to the Yankees. They also gave up 15 to the Orioles on Friday.
• The five unearned runs allowed were the most since the Sox gave up six to the Angels in a 10-innign loss on Aug. 23, 2012. The last time they allowed at least five unearned runs in a nine-inning game was Aug. 4.2010, when they gave up seven in a loss to the Indians.
• Tanaka went 7 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, including two home runs, with no walks and seven strikeouts. He improved to 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA. He has recorded 35 strikeouts this season with just two walks.
• Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with a triple to open the game and two-run double in the fifth, ending Lester’s outing.
• In their last turn through the rotation, Red Sox starters have gone just 24 2/3 innings, an average of just under five innigns each, giving up 22 earned runs for a combined ERA of 8.03.
• In the last three games, opponents have scored at least four runs before the Red Sox were able to get one run.
• Ortiz’s fourth-inning home run was the first the Sox scored before the fifth inning since Saturday.
AROUND THE BASES:
• Lester snapped a streak of 13 straight regular-season starts without allowing a first-inning run. He is the first Sox starting pitcher to give up five or more unearned runs since Bronson Arroyo gave up five on Aug. 5, 2005, at Minnesota.
• Ortiz’s home run was his 377th with the Sox. He is now two behind Dwight Evans for fourth place on the team’s all-time list. Tanaka is the 299th different pitcher Ortiz has homered off.
• Pedroia has doubled in each of his last four games, tying his longest such streak for the fourth time. Over his last five games he is batting .421, going 8-for-19, with five doubles, two RBI, four walks, three runs scored, and reaching base in 12 of 23 plate appearances.
• Napoli has reached base a career-high 17 straight games, in which he is batting .292, going 19-for-65, with seven walks and getting hit by pitches twice.
• Capuano extended his scoreless innings streak to 13.0 over nine games. Since Aug. 31, 2013, he has gone 19 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
• Grady Sizemore is now 1-for-his-last 26 and hitless in his last 13 at-bats.
Shane Victorino finished his rehab assignment with Pawtucket, and was expected to be activated on Wednesday. But, after Tuesday night’s loss to the Yankees, Farrell said a move to add a pitcher may delay Victorino’s activation.
The Red Sox and Yankees play the second of their three-game set at Fenway Park Wednesday at 7:10. Right-hander John Lackey (2-2, 5.25) will be opposed by right-hander Michael Pineda (2-1, 1.00).
Lackey has been roughed up in his last two starts, going a combined 11 innings, giving up 12 runs on 20 hits. This came after two strong outings to start the season, in which he went a combined 13 innings giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits. Which Lackey will the Sox get on Wednesday.
Lackey has gone at least five innings in 26 consecutive starts against the Yankees, the longest such streak among active pitchers and seventh-longest since 1914.
Pineda will be making his fourth start of the season. He faced the Sox on April 10, earning his first win with the Yankees, going six innings, giving up one run on four this and two walks with seven strikeouts. He is the first pitcher to allow one or fewer earned runs and pitch at least six innings in each of his first three starts with the Yankees since Kevin Brown did son in 2004. The last Yankee pitcher with four or more such starts to begin his Yankees career is Tommy John in 1979.
Pineda has made just one career appearance at Fenway, on July 24, 2011, while with the Mariners, when he went 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits and a walk with four strikeouts.