Yankees power surge blacks out Sox relief in 8-6 win

Friday, July 15, 2005

The race in the AL East is alive and well.

The New York Yankees mounted a comeback from an early 4-0 deficit to beat the Boston Red Sox, 8-6, last night, and reduce the Sox' AL East division lead to a mere 1.5 games. The key was the Yankees' hot bats. The Bronx Bombers hit 4 homeruns in total, the last one a thunderous 2-run blast by Alex Rodriguez off converted Red Sox starter Curt Schilling, who was in his first appearance as a relief pitcher after his rehab stint in the minors.

Boston jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead against Yankees starter Mike Mussina, establishing the sort of lead that would usually cause the Yankees to fold during the first half of the season. However, the torrid hitting of the Yankee lineup over the last two weeks would not allow that. Mussina adjusted to the tight strike zone as the game progressed, allowing just one run over the next five innings, and the Yankees chipped away at the BoSox' lead. Bernie Williams, Jason Giambi, and Gary Sheffield all hit solo shots off Red Sox starter Bronson Arroyo. At the end of the sixth inning the score was tied, 5-5, and both starters were done for the day. The game would come down to relief pitching.

David Ortiz put the Red Sox ahead in the bottom of the seventh, hitting a bases-empty home run off Tanyon Sturtze to push the score to 6-5. The Yankees rebounded in the top half of the eighth when Ruben Sierra, pinch-hitting for rookie CF Melky Cabrera, connected for a double, tying the game at 6-all.

Schilling came on in the top of the ninth and promptly hung a 2-2 splitter over the plate for Gary Sheffield, who lined a double off the wall in left-center. Rodriguez was up next, and hit another splitter that never split. The two-run homer gave the Yankees their first lead of the game. Mariano Rivera came on in the bottom of the ninth and silenced the Red Sox bats by striking out the side to end the game, recording his 21st save.

Boston has lost three straight games and is now 10 games over .500 at 49-39. The Yankees (47-40) have won 8 of 9 games dating back to before the All-Star break and currently sit in 3rd place, half a game behind 2nd-place Baltimore.

Notes: Rookie Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, who has been one of the Yankees' most consistent performers, has been placed on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury. It has been speculated that Wang, who tore his labrum while in the minors, may be out for the season. Wang was slated to start tonight's game, but will be replaced by Tim Redding as he waits for an appointment with Dr. James Andrews on Monday...Former Red Sox manager Joe Kerrigan has been signed by the Yankees as an advance scout. General manager Brian Cashman has said that Kerrigan will be used to analyze film of opponents, not as a coach.