NEW YORK -- It took almost exactly one-quarter of their season, but, finally, the Red Sox are at .500.
Digging out from their 2-10 start, the Red Sox edged the New York Yankees, 7-5, for a sweep of their three-game series and a 20-20 record. Boston is 5-1 against the Yankees this season.
The Red Sox got a three-run homer from Kevin Youkilis to tie the game at 4-4, then used solo homers from David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to go ahead. A costly error by Alex Rodriguez in the seventh also led to a run.
Jon Lester walked four and gave up two homers, but settled down after the first two innings and limited to just one singles over his final four innings, improving to 5-1.
There was a time not too long ago when the New York Yankees would fear for their lives when they came into Boston.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that serious.
But go back to the early 2000s and the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees was about as heated as could be.
On one side was the Evil Empire: George Steinbrenner, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens,etc. On the other was the Red Sox: Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, etc.
Those were the days.
Then the Red Sox came back from three games down in the 2004 ALCS, beat the Yankees, and went on to win the World Series. Then they won the World Series again in 2007. And again in 2013.
All that winning changed the narrative around here. The frustration and anger of years of disappointment was replaced by joy.
Welcome to Friendly Fenway.
Suddenly, players like Jeter could come to town and even go out to dinner without being heckled by diehard Sox fans.
On Late Night with Seth Meyers, Jeter told Meyers -- a Red Sox fan -- about how Sox fans have gone soft since their team started winning.
“It doesn’t happen anymore,” he said about being heckled outside Fenway. “I can say this now because I’m retired. Boston fans have softened up since you guys have won. It pains me to say it, but . . . I won’t say it. I’m not happy you won. But you treat me a lot better since you won.”
In our Early Edition production meeting, someone said Clay Buchholz was pitching for his job tonight.
Sorry, not anymore.
As soon as Steven Wright pitched well for the fifth straight time last night, Buchholz's train left the station. It’s time to do with Clay what the Sox did to Panda: Make up an injury, fake a surgery (okay, that’s all a bit of an overstatement with Sandoval) and get him out of the way.
As soon as the White Sox said goodbye to John Danks, we all said the same thing: If Chicago can do it, why can’t Boston? Danks was to start tonight against Buchholz, but the Chisox said "No more" and paid off the final year of his $65 million contract. The Bosox -- haven’t heard that term in a while, have you? -- could do the same with Clay and the $13 million he's owed for this season, plus a $500,000 buyout at the end of the year.
David Price is the No. 1 starter and eventually he'll be fine. Eduardo Rodriquez gave up three runs in six innings last night for Pawtucket and will soon be ready to take his spot in the No. 2 slot. Then there's my pick to click, Rick Porcello (with a 2.76 ERA), and the previously mentioned Wright with his 1.76 ERA. Wright was supposed to be the odd man out when E-Rod returned, but that’s not happening. So there are your top four starters. And what about Joe Kelly when he comes back? I would rather see Kelly and anyone from Pawtucket pitch in the fifth spot instead of Buchholz and his 6.51 ERA.
Is there any reason to keep Buchholz? Not that I can see. Clay can throw his second career no-hitter tonight and my feelings won't change.