The Red Sox clubhouse was under post-trade deadline renovation. Players were either coming in, going out, or on their way.
Allen Craig was setting up shop in the locker that used to belong to Mike Napoli. Will Middlebrooks was settling back into his own locker not far from Craig, which allowed the two to get reacquainted after their run-in (or run-over) in Game 3 of the World Series last year.
Dustin Pedroia moved into Jon Lester’s old spot. Napoli moved across the clubhouse with him.
Christian Vazquez took Jonny Gomes’s spot. Kelly Johnson took Pedroia’s. Mookie Betts adjusted from the corner locker he was using in Pawtucket just the day before to his locker by the door in Boston.
In the middle of the game of musical cubbies, Anthony Ranaudo walked through the room chomping on an apple.
He was in from Pawtucket just 24 hours earlier, but for a pitcher set to make his major league debut the day after the Red Sox hit the reset button on the 2014 season, he was decidedly unfazed by all the moving parts.
“I wasn’t the only new face in the clubhouse today,” Ranaudo said. “So that was good. All the guys were making everybody feel comfortable.”
He made pitching into the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in his first start at Fenway seem like light lifting.
The 24-year-old righthander made his first impression by pumping the Yankees full of fastballs, bypassing the sexiness of strikeouts (just two) to pitch to contact (eight ground balls, six fly balls), pitching around four walks, giving up just four hits and two runs, and pushing the Sox to a 4-3 win that broke up a run of three straight losses.
“I thought he did a good job keeping the game under control,” Sox manager John Farrell said.
“There were a number of innings where the leadoff hitter would get on base and he found a way to navigate through a couple of walks to lead some innings off. But I thought he threw the ball downhill well, kept the ball out of the middle of the plate for the most part.’’
Pedroia gave Ranaudo an early lead to work with in the third inning, launching a fly ball into the triangle in center field for an RBI ground-rule double.
David Ortiz followed with a single to right to bring Pedroia around for a 2-0 lead.
Carlos Beltran answered in the fourth, getting a hold of a heater that Ranaudo left up and away on a 1-and-0 count and driving it into the Yankees bullpen. Brock Holt crashed into the short fence trying to chase it down, but it ended up being Beltran’s 13th homer of the season.
Still, it didn’t do much to slow Ranaudo. He promptly responded by sitting Brian McCann, Chase Headley, and Stephen Drew down in order to get out of the inning with minimal damage. The Sox got the run back in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single from David Ross.
Beltran (2 for 3, two RBIs) was one of the few hitters in the Yankees lineup that wasn’t overmatched by Ranaudo. And the Sox were able to back Ranaudo’s strong outing with clutch hitting, going 4 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
Pedroia (2 for 4, two RBIs) shot a ground ball to center field for a run-scoring single in the seventh that gave the Sox a 4-2 lead.
Derek Jeter sprinkled in some late-inning drama with a rocket over the Green Monster off Junichi Tazawa in the eighth. The homer was just the third of the season for Jeter.
With the longtime face of the Yankees making his farewell tour this season, the Fenway crowd showed its admiration by cheering after he rounded the bases.
It was a rough way to start things for Tazawa, a week removed from his worst outing as a reliever, but he got help from Mookie Betts, who was playing center field.
Jacoby Ellsbury followed Jeter’s shot by blasting a ball deep to straightaway center field that sent Betts sprinting toward the warning track. Betts leaped to make the grab, rolling just in front of the garage door in center for the crucial first out.
“He was going back on a ball, leaping catch at a pivotal time in a game, particularly after Jeter’s solo home run to start off the eighth inning,” Farrell said. “For a guy who’s transitioned positions inside this year, a very athletic play.”
Betts didn’t know he was coming to Boston until five hours before the first pitch.
“I was very surprised,” Betts said. “I was about to go hit and get ready for the game [in Pawtucket] and instead I’m coming here. But I’m happy.”
Tazawa then gave up a one-out, ground-rule double to Mark Teixeira to put the tying run in scoring position and then issued a two-out walk to McCann. But he got Headley to ground out to second to end the inning.
From there, Koji Uehara made sure that the Sox’ unbeaten record (37-0) when leading after the eighth inning remained intact, sitting the Yankees down in order to pick up his 22d save of the season.
With the first steps in the getting-to-know-you stage out of the way, the next step, Farrell said, is seeing how all the new faces mesh together.
“It’s important for us to continue to go out and execute as consistent and successful as possible,” Farrell said. “And tonight was a step in that way.”Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @julianbenbow.