Once again, Yanks fight back but can’t close the deal

The Yankees had a chance over the weekend to bury the Red Sox but failed to do so. Boston took two of the three games to get back to .500 (51-51). While the Sox are still in last place in the American League East they got the deficit below double figures (9 ½ games).

The Yanks were able to overcome a 2-0, second-inning deficit and push Sunday night’s game into extra innings. The way the Yanks’ offense has hummed this season, two runs is almost like being shut out. Russell Martin drove in both Yankees runs with his 12th home run and a single. The Yanks stranded 10 base runners in losing a series at home for only the fourth time this year.

Nine of the Yankees’ past 10 games have been decided by three runs or less, including five by one run, and they have lost all of those. For the second straight game, they came back in the eighth inning to tie the score only to lose the game eventually.

Typical of almost any Yanks-Red Sox match-up, there was some weirdness going on. After David Robertson got himself in trouble by walking Jarrod Saltalamachia to open the 10th, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks attempted a sacrifice on a fastball from Robertson that ran in on the batter. The ball appeared to hit Middlebrooks on the right hand. Plate umpire Brian O’Nora fell to the ground because the ball ricocheted off Middlebrooks’ bat and struck him in the left knee.

The ump then pleased the Yankee Stadium crowd of 48,526 by ruling the play a foul ball. That brought Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine out of the dugout to argue what he thought was a foul call. Bobby V. put on a pretty good show and earned his ejection. What got to Valentine was O’Nora’s explanation, which is where the weird part comes in. After all, how can ump call a play when he is on the ground?

“Heard it,” Valentine said. “That’s what I take exception with. No one saw anything. He just heard it. What are you going to do?”

What Middlebrooks did was even better than bunting over the runner. He singled on a 0-2 pitch. Robertson got an out as Ryan Sweeney grounded into a force play, but new Yankee killer Pedro Ciriaco hit a bloop single to right field to drive in what proved the winning run.

Ciriaco, 26, who has bounced all over the majors and minors the past 10 seasons, is hitting an even .500 with two doubles, one triple and six RBI in 22 at-bats against the Yankees this year.

So the Red Sox picked up some hope. They still have to climb over four teams, but there are two months left in the season and nine more games against the Yankees, who now turn their attention to the second-place Orioles, who come to town for a three-game set beginning Monday night.

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