BOSTON -- Forsix games, they were the gang that couldn't shoot straight. On therare occasions when they hit, they couldn't pitch. When they pitched,they couldn't hit. Bad defense? Boneheaded plays? Check, andcheck.
Then they came home. And everythingchanged.
Oh, they still had some pitching problems-- John Lackey's six-runs-allowed-in-five-innings performance was ablast from the (recent) past -- but the Red Sox had little else tocomplain about in Friday's 9-6 victory over the Yankees in the FenwayPark opener.
They gotfour shutout relief innings from Alfredo Aceves, Bobby Jenks, DanielBard and Jonathan Papelbon. After going 1-for-14 with runners inscoring position on Wednesday and Thursday in Cleveland, they went6-for-9 on Friday . . . and most of the damage came with two outs.Dustin Pedroia led the 12-hit attack with a home run and two singles,and Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchiaalso had multihit games.
And when it was over, theywere off the schneid. The Sox beat out the Rays in the race to avoidbeing baseball's last winless team.
Player of the Game: DustinPedroia
He'd been hard on himself for letting the team down inclutch situations recently, but that came to an end Friday. He hit afirst-inning home run, cutting the Yankee lead to 2-1. He delivered atwo-out, two-run single in the second, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead (andlater scored himself, sliding home at right on a single by AdrianGonzalez). And he added a third hit, another single, in the eighthinning.
His 3-for-5 performance lifted his averagefrom .227 to .296, and it helped his team lift its winning percentagefrom .000 to .143. Not much . . . but you have to startsomewhere.
Honorable mention: Jonathan Papelbon, AlfredoAceves, Bobby Jenks and DanielBard
Papelbon (left) finally got a savesituation, seven games into the season, and he ran with it: He struckout Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter and got Mark Teixeira on a lazy flyto center to end it.
But he wouldn't have had theopportunity were it not for his 'pen mates. Aceves came on in the sixthin relief of John Lackey with a 7-6 lead and held the Yanks scoreless(with the help of a double play). Jenks walked the leadoff hitter inthe seventh but got the next three batters. And Bard was theGood Bard, recording a 1-2-3 eighth.
Just like theydrew it up. Finally.
The goat: PhilHughes
The Yankee starterwas going up against a team that entered the game with a .181 battingaverage, 10 extra-base hits in 193 at-bats, and was averaging2.6 runs pergame. Against him, the Red Sox hit .636 (7-for-11) with six singles anda home run, and scored seven runs in two innings . . . which comes outto a 28-run-per-game pace. Which means that Hughes' 11.25 ERA went upduring the course of his brief -- but, for Boston, fruitful --appearance.
The turning point
The Red Soxhad gone 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position over their last twogames in Cleveland, and it looked like it would be more of the samewhen Carl Crawford -- batting in the second inning with runners atfirst and second, one out, and the Sox trailing, 3-2 -- grounded out toshortstop. That moved runners to second and third, but it also movedthe Yankees to within one out of getting out of the inning with thelead.
Instead, the Sox gotfour straight men on base -- via three hits and a walk -- and scoredfour runs. It started with Dustin Pedroia's two-runsingle, and it was followed by an RBI single from Adrian Gonzalez, awalk to Kevin Youkilis, and an RBI single from David Ortiz (right).
The 6-3 lead didn't hold, thanks to John Lackey(who allowed single runs in each of the next three innings to allow theYankees to tie the score), but the Boston offense had come alive.Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-out RBI double in the fifth put the Soxahead to stay, and J.D. Drew delivered a pair of insurance runs in theeighth with a two-run single.
Stat of the Day: 6-for-9
Thatwas the Red Sox' average with runners in scoring position Friday, aftergoing 1-for-14 with RISP on Wednesday and Thursday and Cleveland.Dustin Pedroia had one of the biggest of the six hits, a two-run singlein the second (right) that gave the Sox a 4-3lead.
What's more, the Sox went 4-for-6 with RISPand two out, as five of their nine runs Friday were scored with twoout.
Quote of the day
"I never sawa team so happy to be 1-6.'' -- Terry Francona
Art Martone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org