Off-season free agent signings by the Yankees are usually a big thing. But it always takes on a skewed dimension with the team’s first arrival to Fenway Park, and that player is thrown into the glare of professional sports’ greatest rivalry. Yankees fans remember all too well the Fenway debuts of José Contreras, Kei Igawa and Alex Rodriguez. Not pretty. And much to the delight of the Boston crowd. This time it would be different.
Tanaka and Ellsbury Bring the Pain
Taking different paths in their respective journeys that brought them together as teammates in Fenway tonight, both Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury made an impression on the Fenway Faithful. Tanaka posted a strong 7 1/3 inning effort, striking out 7 and walking none. His only mistake pitches came on high fastballs to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, who went back to back in the 4th inning. Ellsbury came within a few feet of a game opening home run to center, settling for a disputed triple. He went 2-5 with 2 RBI and also made a great catch in center.
In Ellsbury’s play, Boston fans were instantly reminded of what they are missing. A potent and patient hitter at the plate, speed on the base paths, and stellar defense in the outfield.
The Yanks got it going early against Boston starter John Lester. Putting up crooked numbers in the first, third and fifth innings for a 8-2 lead, they forced the Red Sox ace to a pitch count of 118 by the time he was removed after 4 1/3. Carlos Beltran drilled a home run (his 6th) into the right field seats in the 8th inning for a finishing touch on an all-around well played game by the Yanks.
HIGHLIGHT REEL : In addition to Ellsbury’s huge catch in the bottom of the first, third baseman Yangervis Solarte made two charging, bare-handed grabs on dribblers that resulted in outs at first base. Which made up for this 0-5 performance at the plate, dropping his average t0 a mere .303 …
Here’s the box score. Tomorrow it’s Michael Pineda vs John Lackey in game two.