The Boston Red Sox came limping into Yankee Stadium last night on the heels of two straight losses at Detroit. By the end of the night, they left with their third straight setback. But are all losses the same?
The record now reads 19 wins and 20 losses. Number 20 might just drive a stake through the heart of a team expected to contend until the end in 2010.
Frankly, the game began in almost predictable fashion, with the Yankees taking advantage of an unready Daisuke Matsuzaka and a shaky run prevention unit behind the Boston starter. By the time the painfully long first inning ended, the Yankees had a 5-0 lead. However, the night still had plenty of drama remaining.
Dice-K settled in and allowed just two more runs through the next few frames, and even one of those runs was aided by a terrible play in CF by Darnell McDonald in CF. With two outs and the Sox on their way out of the inning, McDonald tracked a ball near the wall and then inexplicably left his feet and had the ball bounce off his glove, even though it was not even going to hit the fence.
Meanwhile, the Boston bats showed up in a big way against previously untouchable Yankee starter Phillip Hughes. Hughes gave up two the Red Sox' five home runs on the night, including a three-run bomb off the bat of JD Drew. David Ortiz also connected earlier off Hughes.
Victor Martinez hit two home runs off Yankee relievers, as did Kevin Youkilis. The two went back-to-back in the 8th to give the Red Sox an improbable 9-7 lead.
The Red Sox' bullpen, on the other hand, was lights out in the fifth through eighth innings, as Tim Wakefield and Daniel Bard held New York scoreless, setting up Jonathan Papelbon to close the Yankees out in the 9th.
Papelbon, however, could not hold the lead. Alex Rodriguez hit a game-tying two-run homer, and Marcus Thames sent the home crowd home happy with a two-run shot of his own.
Although the loss was just one of 20, it could have a bigger impact. The Sox play the next eight games against the Bronx Bombers in New York, and the team is in danger of falling behind the Tampa Bay Rays by 10 games.
What could have been a feel-good, come-from-behind win turned into a defeat that might just take away whatever fight in a team that has lacked a sense of urgency since exiting Spring Training in early April.