Coming into Friday night’s series opener in the Bronx between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, all anyone could talk about was what was wrong with Yankees’ ace C.C. Sabathia. His velocity has been down, he’s coming off of elbow surgery during the offseason, and in his most recent outing, he was completely leveled by the Tampa Bay Rays. To make matters worse, both teams were heading in different directions, as the Bombers had been losers of five in a row, while the Red Sox were hitting their stride, overtaking the Yankees for a 2.5 game lead in the American League East.
Within the first few innings of Friday night’s matchup, it was C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees who looked more like the poised, veteran team that is used to handling business in the heat of a pennant race. Over 7 1/3 innings, Sabathia held the first place Red Sox to one earned run, while striking out 10, leading the Yankees to a 4-1 victory. Jon Lester, who started for Boston and is normally almost unbeatable in the Bronx, looked pedestrian, struggling with his command all evening, pitching 6 1/3, while giving up all four Yankees runs.
The game also witnessed the return of two big pieces of the puzzle for the Yankees, as both Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis were activated from the disabled list prior to Friday night’s game. Teixeira went 0-for-3 in his return, while Youkilis went 1-for-4 with an RBI. Ichiro Suzuki led the offensive attack for the Bombers, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and an RBI. The win by New York cut into the Red Sox division lead, which now stands a 1.5 games heading into Saturday’s matchup, pitting Felix Doubront for Boston against Phil Hughes for the Yankees.
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli was the lone bright spot in the loss, going 1-for-4, with the sole Red Sox run driven in. Prospect Jackie Bradley, Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and was inserted into the starting lineup for Boston, replacing an injured Jacoby Ellsbury. The questions surrounding Sabathia’s lost velocity were answered in short order Friday night as well, as the big lefty hit 94 mph on the radar gun multiple times throughout the evening. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected from Friday night’s affair after arguing a call at second base when David Adams was called out in the middle of a Yankees rally.
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