Turning a season around in three weeks
What a difference three weeks can make in a baseball season. The last time the Yankees faced Red Sox righthander Joe Kelly was April 11 at Yankee Stadium in a game that started around 10 hours after a 19-inning loss.
It was easily the worst game the Yanks have played this year. Kelly held them to one run and one hit in seven innings, and the Yankees committed three errors in an 8-4 defeat that dropped their record to 1-4. It was a tough loss for Adam Warren, who gave up only two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings.
Warren and Kelly were paired again Sunday night at Fenway Park and, well, talk about mirror images. The Yanks jumped on Kelly early with Mark Teixeira driving a two-run home run over the Green Monster in the first inning and just kept it up. Kelly was driven from the game in the fifth inning in yet another disappointing start for the Red Sox rotation, which has the bloatest ERA (5.60) in the league.
By the sixth inning, the Yankees were up, 8-0. Brian McCann doubled home two runs with two outs in the third inning and scored on a double by Carlos Beltran. In the sixth, lefthander Craig Breslow faced three batters and gave up singles to Didi Gregorius and Jacoby Ellsbury — his fourth hit — and a three-run home run to Brett Gardner.
Meanwhile, Warren was breezing through the first five innings. A leadoff double by Mookie Betts in the fourth, the first ball to reach the outfield for Boston, was the only hit allowed by Warren until the sixth when with two out suddenly everything came apart for the righthander.
The Red Sox put seven consecutive runners on base and when the dust cleared a five-spot went up on the board. The big blow was a three-run home run by struggling Mike Napoli, a seasoned Yankees killer. It came off Esmil Rogers, who failed to bail out Warren, whose line turned into something quite ordinary (5 2/3 innings, 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1 hit batter).
The Red Sox drew no closer, but the 8-5 Yankees victory had its tense moments, especially in the ninth when Boston loaded the bases on two walks and a Chase Headley error before Andrew Miller nailed down his 10th save when David Ortiz flied out to end the game.
The Yankees’ series sweep was their first of three games or more at Fenway Park in nine seasons and improved their road record this season to 10-3. The Yankees had won their past four series at Fenway, their longest such streak since taking four straight from Aug. 30, 2011 to Sept. 13, 2012 (9-3 over the stretch).
Ellsbury had a perfect night in reaching base in all six of his plate appearances with four singles, a walk and getting hit by a pitch. The center fielder has a six-game hitting streak since April 27 during which he is batting .538 with five runs, one RBI, two walks, two hit by pitches and five stolen bases in 26 at-bat. He has raised his season batting average from .282 to .351 in that time.