Michael Dwyer- AP PhotoRED SOX- After a two day break that felt like a mini-offseason, the Red Sox (along with the rest of MLB) finally came out of the all-star break on Friday. Right out of the gate, the Red Sox would open up the second portion of their season with a series of pivotal matchups against opponents with the AL East matchup, starting with the Yankees on Friday night. Thanks to homers by Jacoby Ellsbury and Johnny Gomes and a solid 6⅓ innings from Felix Doubront, the Red Sox went on to win the series opener by a 4-2 final.
In Saturday afternoon, the Yankee's Hideki Kuroda pitched 7 shutout innings in New York's 5-2 win over Boston, setting up the rubber game of the series to be televised nationally on ESPN's Sunday night baseball with CC Sabathia going up against Ryan Dempster. I actually had some misgivings about that, considering the last time the Red Sox were on Sunday Night baseball, they were shut out by the Angels. But then again, I've pretty much had it with people who complain about Red Sox/Yankees games being nationally televised given how relatively few Red Sox games have been nationally televised this season.
The Yankees jumped on Ryan Dempster early, jumping out to a 3-0 lead by the second innings. Sabathia seemed to be cruising through the first couple of innings, but the wheels started to come off in the bottom of the 3rd. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with a double and moved to 3rd on a sacrifice by Shane Victorino before coming home on a 1-out Pedroia RBI single to put the Red Sox on the board. Big Papi would then single, bringing up Mike Napoli- who knocked a 1-2 Sabathia offering clear out of the ballpark. Never mind Landsdowne Street- Napoli's 3rd inning blast likely came down on Elliot Street in Exeter, NH. The three run shot put the Red Sox up 4-3.
In the bottom of the 4th, Sabathia managed to load the bases with nobody out. Shane Victorino made him pay with a 2-RBI single to put the Red Sox up 6-3. Johnny Gomes led off the bottom of the 5th with a solo homer that cleared the Monster seats in left field to make it 7-3 Boston.
However, the Yankees whittled down Boston's lead to 5-7 in the top of the 6th with RBI singles from OF Brett Gardner and 2B Robinson Cano after chasing Dempster from the mound. The Bronx bombers then managed to tie the contest up 7-7 in the top of the 7th thanks to a costly throwing by Iglesias and Luis Cruz grounding into a fielder's choice with a runner on 3rd and only one out.
The Yankees bullpen, however was nearly perfect against the Red Sox after Sabathia left, giving up just one hit against Boston before forcing extra innings. In the top of the 11th, Pedro Beato came out of the pen for the Sox and got two quick popouts from Wells and Lilibridge before giving up a single to shortstop Eduardo Nunez. However, Saltalamacchia gunned down Nunez when he attempted to steal second to end the inning [even though it looked like Nunez had come in before Pedroia's tag and was safe on a replay- NANESB!].
Adam Warren came on in relief for the Yankees and got Pedroia to fly out and Big Papi to hit into the shift. It looked like Warren would have a 1-2-3 inning and had a 3-2 count on Mike Napoli when this happened:
And just in case I botched embedding the video, Mike Napoli belts a solo homer to the deepest part of the park to give Boston the 8-7 win over the Yankees in 11 innings. The win is Boston's 9th walkoff win of the season as the Red Sox take two out of three from the Yankees. Napoli went 2-6 with 2 HR and 4 RBI on the night while Shane Victorino would go 2-5 with 2 RBI and Gomes would go 1-4 with the solo homer.
It does not get any easier for the Olde Towne Team as the Red Sox get ready for a 4-game tilt with the Tampa Bay Rays, who come into Monday night's contest only a game and a half behind Boston for first in the AL East. After the Sox/Rays series at Fenway, the Sox will travel down to Baltimore for a weekend series against the O's.
Brandon Workman [0-0; 5.4 ERA] will see his first start since taking a no-hitter against the Oakland A's into the 7th inning prior to the All Star break while Tampa Bay sends Matt Moore [13-3; 3.44 ERA] to the mound on Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 ET and the game will be televised on NESN.
OTHER RED SOX NEWS- Shortstop Stephen Drew returned to the lineup on Saturday after being on the DL since June 28th. On Sunday night's game, Drew was 0-3 with a walk and a run scored.
EVEN MORE RED SOX NEWS- Yahoo Sports is reporting that the Red Sox are negotiating a record-breaking $100 million deal with second baseman Dustin Pedroia, making the gritty infielder the face of the franchise for the foreseeable future. Sources indicate both parties are open to a deal and it's just a matter of hammering out years and dollars. While nothing has been finalized, the deal could rival the 6 year $100 million contract that was agreed upon by the Tampa Bay Rays and Evan Longoria.
ELSEWHERE IN MLB- Despite all the talk about A-Rod, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is the first MLB player to face sanction over the Biogenesis scandal. Braun was named the National League MVP in 2011 but tested positive for PED's in the offseason. Braun successfully appealed the suspension, claiming the urine sample in question was mishandled by a laboratory technician.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced the penalty Monday, citing Braun for multiple unspecified "violations" of baseball's drug program and labor contract. Braun will miss the Milwaukee Brewers' final 65 games without pay, costing him about $3 million of his $8.5 million salary.
Under the agreement reached by MLB and the players' association the specifics of Braun's admission won't be made public.
"We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions," said Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for economics and league affairs. "We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field."
Union head Michael Weiner said in a statement: "I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step. It vindicates the rights of all players under the joint drug program. It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field."
Braun's acceptance of a suspension marks a 180-degree turnaround from his defiant spring training news conference in Phoenix last year, after his 50-game ban was overturned.
Braun will be suspended the remainder of the season without pay- reportedly losing more than $3 million as a result. Braun will also miss the postseason, although since the Brewers are dead last in the NL Central and have the second worst record in the National League.
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Oakland starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta have also been implicated the Biogenesis Clinic scandal.