While most of America's eyes were turned to watching the opening to the NFL season, most die-hard baseball fans were tuned in to the start of a September showdown between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Coming into the game, the Yankees had won five out of their last six games and were looking to make up ground in the American League East, as well as look to gain more ground in the American League Wild Card standings.
With Ivan Nova on the mound, who had been red hot for the Yankees in August, the Yankees were feeling good about their chances with Boston, but the Red Sox had other plans for Nova. In the top of the third inning, Jacoby Ellsbury's RBI ground-rule double gave Boston a 1-0 lead. Shane Victorino's sacrifice fly gave Boston a 2-0 lead, but the Yankees didn't panic facing off against Jake Peavy.
In the bottom of the third inning and with two runners on, one of the Yankees hottest hitters, Robinson Cano, continued to torture Boston with a two-run double to score Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter, which tied the game at 2-2.
Nova gave the lead right back to the Red Sox in the top of the fourth inning when Will Middlebrooks hit a solo home run off Nova which allowed Boston to re-take the lead at 3-2. Nova didn't make it past the fifth inning, as the Boston hitters got his pitch count really high on Thursday night and forced him out of the game early on. Nova went four innings and allowed three runs on five hits, walked two and struck out three and wasn't his best in this latest outing.
So with Nova gone, the Yankees were looking to get five innings out of their bullpen and started with the recently called up Preston Claiborne, who was down right terrible on Thursday night for the Yankees. Claiborne served up a solo home run to Shane Victorino to increase Boston's lead to 4-2 and then Dustin Pedroia's RBI infield single made it 5-2.
Claiborne was unable to record a single out in his relief appearance, as he gave up three runs on four hits, walked one and didn't strike anyone out and further buried the Yankees into a deeper hole.
In the top of the seventh inning, with Adam Warren on pitching in long relief, Ryan Lavarnway's RBI single made it 7-2 Boston and it had looked like the Red Sox were going to win in a laugher. But the Yankees weren't through in the bottom of the seventh.
Brett Gardner's RBI single gave the Yankees some life making it 7-3 and Cano reaching on an infielder's choice made it 7-4, which lead to Boston manager John Farrell to take out Peavy, who went six innings and allowed four runs on six hits, walked three and struck out four and left with the lead.
Alfonso Soriano's RBI single made it 7-5 and Curtis Granderson's RBI double made it 7-6, which really got the Yankees right back into the thick of things. Later in the inning and with two outs, Lyle Overbay's two-run single gave the Yankees the lead for the first time in the game and went up 8-7.
With the Yankees heading into the top of the ninth inning with a lead and handing Mariano Rivera the ball, most fans would have felt confident about their closer getting the save. After David Ortiz and Daniel Nava made the first two outs, the save was right there, but Mike Napoli singled to continue the game and was pinch-ran for by Quintin Berry, who stole second and then got to third base on a throwing error by Austin Romine.
In the next at-bat, Stephen Drew's RBI single scored Berry and tied the game again at 8-8, which breathed new life into the Red Sox. The blown save was Rivera's sixth of the season and left a crowded house at Yankee Stadium in a stunned trance.
In the bottom of the ninth, Soriano walked and then stole second with Curtis Granderson batting. Soriano tried to take third, but was caught stealing and ended a potential rally for the Yankees to win the game in the inning if Granderson had gotten a single or even a sac fly if Soriano had stolen the base.
In the top of the 10th, Girardi put in Joba Chamberlain; who most fans wondered why was even in a big game like this because he has been pitching so poorly as of late. Ellsbury singled to center and then stole second base with Victorino up. Chamberlain nearly had a strikeout of Victorino, but umpire Joe West called the check swing a ball instead of a third strike, which was followed by Victorino getting an RBI single to give Boston a 9-8 lead. After Chamberlain was taken out of the game, he was ejected for barking at West for blowing the call. Chamberlain had a valid argument because on the replay, it clearly showed that Victorino had the strikeout and West really missed the call on the play.
Koji Uehara came on into the bottom of the 10th inning to record the save for Boston, as the Red Sox held on to win a wild one over the Yankees 9-8. Craig Breslow got the win for Boston, improving to 5-2, while Chamberlain too the loss and dropped to 2-1. Uehara picked up his 18th save of the year.
The Yankees, now 75-65, are still 2.5 games out of the wild card, but are nine games out in the division with the loss to Boston. On Friday night, the Yankees will send Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01 ERA) up to the mound looking to rebound from the tough loss and give another quality outing, as he will oppose against another lefty in Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89 ERA.)
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