|Game 88: July 3, 2008|
|Red Sox||7||W: Jon Lester (7-3)||51-37, 1 game winning streak|
|Yankees||0||L: Andy Pettitte (9-6)||45-41, 1 game losing streak|
|Highlights: Lester is the first visiting left-handed pitcher to win a complete game shutout at Stade Fasciste since Eric Milton did on May 8, 2001. Hopefully Lester’s career follows a path more like his opposition, Pettitte, rather than Milton’s. For Pettitte, despite the performance enhancing drug accusations and his selection of friends and associates is a model of a solid southpaw starter, lest we misremember.|
The Red Sox scored early, capitalizing on defensive blunders in the first inning by the home team. Dustin Pedroia, who singled on a rope to center, scored when Derek Jeter Lugoed a throw to first on what should have been Manny Ramirez’s 11th grounding into a double play this season and the end of the inning. J.D. Drew should be credited with an assist as it was his leg extension that took Jeter out of the flow of his throwing motion.
Ramirez ran on Johnny Damon’s weak arm when Mike Lowell batted a single to left and was rewarded with the second run of the inning. Compounding Andy Pettitte’s consternation was the lack of a cutoff man; neither Jeter nor Alex Rodriguez backed up the play and Lowell advanced to second.
Similarly, Julio Lugo took it upon himself to run the ball to the second base sack and attempt the double play on the batted ball he fielded off Bobby Abreu’s bat in the home half of the first. Two men were already on the bases because of bases on balls and there were none out.
With one out and runners at the corners and 54,677 fans in an uproar, Jon Lester did not wither. He struck out Rodriguez and Jason Giambi to staunch the Yankees’ momentum.
Jeter grounded into a balletic double play in the third. Lowell leaped to snare the batted ball and relayed to second base. When plucky Pedroia was given the chance to be the pivot man on the double play he didn’t allow Melky Cabrera to upend him.
In the fifth Abreu misplayed Drew’s fly ball, allowing his counterpart to double and eventually score. Drew demonstrated how to properly play left in the seventh when he backed up against the boundaries of the short porch and jumped to nab Jorge Posada’s fly to complete a 1-2-3 inning, the last of Lester’s clean innings.
Yankee batters led off with singles in the final two innings and both times were erased by double plays. Lester’s dominance (eight whiffs and just five hits allowed) coupled with crisp defense snapped the Red Sox losing streak and caused Joe Girardi to snap and have a closed-door post-game meeting. Rodriguez left the locker room in time for whatever extracurricular activities he is wont to pursue.
In the alternate universe where the Rays reign atop the AL East, it was the Red Sox who turned those key plays that led to victory while the Yankees failed to live up to the expectations of the vaunted pinstriped tradition.