The Yankees finally arrived at Fenway Park Friday night, 3½ months into what has been a surprisingly successful season for the Red Sox.
A sellout crowd of 38,130, the largest of the year, turned out for the latest chapter of the rivalry. Not even the stifling heat could keep them away.
“It’s a great atmosphere. It always is when they come to town,” Dustin Pedroia said.
The game itself was actually a little routine. The Sox jumped out to an early lead on home runs by Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonny Gomes and held on to beat the Yankees, 4-2.
Felix Doubront continued to build on his success, pitching into the seventh inning again. The patchwork bullpen then gave a two-run lead to closer Koji Uehara, who needed only seven pitches to retire the side in the ninth inning.
The game was over in 2 hours and 55 minutes, a sprint for these teams. The Sox are 5-2 against the Yankees this season.
Then again, these are the Yankees in name only. Outside of Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, and starting pitcher Andy Pettitte, the Yankees sent a team of replacements out against the Sox.
Derek Jeter went back on the disabled list Friday, rejoining Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson. It’s little wonder the Yankees have lost three straight and are 21-27 since May 26. They trail the Sox by seven games.
The Red Sox have their own issues.
Before the game, righthanded reliever Andrew Bailey went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that is expected to keep him out for the rest of the season.
Once the game started, right fielder Shane Victorino lasted only three innings before aggravating his strained left hamstring and going to the trainer’s room. He is day to day.
But the Sox still have a solid lineup that was able to take a 3-0 lead off Pettitte (7-7) before the second inning was over.
Ellsbury led off the bottom of the first inning by driving a high fastball into the seats in right field for his fourth home run. Ellsbury has nine leadoff homers, tying Dom DiMaggio and Tommy Harper for the most in team history.
Ellsbury has three home runs in his last 10 games and is hitting .398 since June 21.
In the second inning, Mike Napoli drew a walk before Gomes jumped on a changeup from Pettitte and drove it into the Monster Seats in left field for his seventh home run.
Gomes was 2 for 3 against Pettitte and is 10 for 28 (.357) against him in his career.
“It’s definitely not a guessing game,” Gomes said. “You’ve kind of got to play your chips against two of his three pitches. It wasn’t a bad pitch. I hadn’t seen his changeup and thought he was going to throw it. The chips worked out.”
The preponderance of lefty starters in the AL East was one of the reasons the Sox signed Gomes. The left fielder could be a significant player over the next two weeks as the Sox play 10 consecutive games against division foes.
Gomes had a double in the seventh inning off Pettitte and scored on a two-out single by Jose Iglesias off reliever Shawn Kelley.
Iglesias singled to center on the eighth pitch he saw to drive in the run. He clapped his hands as he headed to first and pumped his fist once he rounded the bag.
Iglesias was 1 for 14 before the single.
“A big at-bat by Iggy,” manager John Farrell said. “We scratched out that fourth run.”
Doubront (7-3) held the Yankees to two runs (one earned) on three hits over 6⅓ innings. He walked three and struck out five.
“He’s been great,” Pedroia said. “He attacks the zone; he’s got great stuff. It was hot out there tonight and he went out there and pounded the zone and tried to get quick outs. He did a great job.”
Doubront has a 2.59 earned run average in his last 12 starts. In his last six starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA.
Doubront has proved adept at standing up to the challenge of the rivalry. He is 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees.
“Another very solid effort on his part,” said Farrell, who stuck with Doubront in May when the lefthander had a 6.40 ERA after six appearances.
Doubront faced only nine hitters through three innings thanks to a double play turned by Pedroia in the second inning.
Gardner then manufactured a run on his own in the fourth inning.
Gardner drew a walk and stole second despite being picked off first base. Gardner then took off for third and stole the base easily.
When the throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia skipped past Brandon Snyder, Gardner trotted home with New York’s first run.
The Yankees got their first hit in the fifth inning when Lyle Overbay doubled off the wall in center. He scored on a two-out double by No. 9 hitter Chris Stewart.
Doubront got one out in the seventh before being lifted after 93 pitches.
Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, and Uehara held the Yankees down for the final 2⅔ innings.
Breslow put two runners on with one out in the eighth inning before getting Vernon Wells on a soft liner to shortstop and Luis Cruz on a grounder the same way.
It was the ninth save for Uehara, who has allowed one earned run and struck out 19 in 13⅓ innings since being named closer.
The Yankees also had attrition during the game. Left fielder Zoilo Almonte left in the fifth inning with a sprained left ankle. Gardner was ejected in the fifth inning after striking out looking and slamming his helmet with two hands.
Umpire Mike Everitt immediately tossed him.