Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a run scoring double in the bottom of the fifth, J.D. Drew chipped in with a key single in the seventh for two important insurance runs, and the bullpen as a unit was effective for the first time all season, giving the Boston Red Sox their first win of 2011 over the New York Yankees, 9-6.
At the outset, it appeared that the Red Sox might be in trouble once again, as starter John Lackey struggled in the first inning, giving up a two-run double to second baseman Robinson Cano.
However, Dustin Pedroia answered back emphatically in the bottom of the first, driving a Phil Hughes pitches into the first row of the monster seats, getting the Sox back within one.
After another run was allowed by Lackey in the top of the second, the Sox strung together five runs in the bottom of the second, with Pedroia once again delivering, this time delivering a single to center, driving in Jacoby Ellsbury and Mario Scutaro.
But Lackey was unable to hold the lead, as the Yankees scored at least one run in each of Lackey’s five innings, the last being a game-tying home run by Alex Rodriguez.
After Saltalamacchia gave the Sox the lead back at 7-6, the Sox bullpen shut the Yankees down, allowing just one hit over four innings. The vaunted end-of-game-combo, Bobby Jenks, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, did exactly what was expected of them, retiring nine of the final ten batters, with Papelbon striking out two for his first save of the season.
The Sox trotted out a new lineup in order to shake up things, with Carl Crawford leading off and Adrian Gonzalez moving up to the three hole. While Crawford struggled, going 0-5, Gonzalez delivered two hits, one a run-scoring single in the five-run second inning.
All in all, it was a great home opener for the Sox, although the win was tempered by news that former Red Sox great Manny Ramirez had announced his retirement from baseball due to an ongoing investigation into his possible violation of baseball’s drug policy.
MLB on FOX correspondent Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter that Ramirez had failed a drug test during spring training and did not appeal. MLB would have announced the suspension had Manny not opted for retirement.
Sad day for Manny, indeed. However, the Red Sox are finally off and running.
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