After another dreary night of offense Thursday, Joe Girardi expressed hope that a visit from the Yankees' top rival might awaken his team's dead-to-the-world bats. "I'm just hoping it brings out the best in us and not the best in the Red Sox,'' he said.
Controlled for the first seven innings by Clay Buchholz, with Russell Martin providing a loud exception, the Yankees fell to the Red Sox, 5-4, in front of a sellout crowd of 48,254 at the Stadium on Friday night.
"There's no question we need to do better,'' Alex Rodriguez said. "One through nine, we need to step up and have more quality at-bats and come up with big hits. We haven't done that over the last week or even longer.''
Buchholz allowed five hits and two runs in seven innings, with the lone scoreboard damage done by Martin. His seventh homer of the season, a two-run blast to centerfield in the fifth, made it 2-2. But the Yankees went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, left eight on base and struck out nine times.
For Yankees fans, the eighth inning likely was the most irritating. Curtis Granderson tripled to center off Daniel Bard and scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. Rodriguez walked, Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch and they pulled off a double steal to put runners on second and third with one out. But Nick Swisher struck out swinging on a 99-mph fastball and Jorge Posada got ahead 3-and-0 before grounding out to second on a 3-and-2 pitch.
"We're putting ourselves in good situations; we're just not coming up with that big hit,'' said Posada, whose 1-for-4 night raised his average to .165.
Derek Jeter singled off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the ninth, went to second on defensive indifference and scored on Granderson's single. But Mark Teixeira, who struck out with a runner at second in the fifth and popped out with Granderson at third and none out in the eighth, popped up to end the game. "I didn't get the job done,'' Teixeira said.
He was not alone, and Girardi didn't discount the possibility of shaking up the lineup. "We'll continue to discuss it,'' he said.
Bartolo Colon (2-2), the subject of some unwanted scrutiny regarding a surgical procedure that involved the injection of stem cells last year, took the loss but pitched well. He was charged with three runs, two earned, in six innings-plus. "That's something you're probably going to have to talk to the Players Association about,'' he said of choosing the stem-cell treatment. He did not elaborate.
With the score 2-2, Colon allowed Jarrod Saltalamacchia's leadoff single in the seventh and was replaced by Joba Chamberlain. The Red Sox then took a 5-2 lead on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez (who had homered in the fourth) and Kevin Youkilis' two-out, two-run homer. Chamberlain, whose slider has been electric lately, was beaten on fastballs by both Red Sox hitters.
"You can't second-guess yourself. You have to throw every pitch with conviction,'' Chamberlain said. "Russell and I were on the same page, and that's what we felt we needed to do.''
Colon's line would have been better had his defense been able to turn a double play in the seventh. Against Chamberlain, Jacoby Ellsbury sent a sharp grounder to Jeter, an apparent 6-4-3 double-play ball, but Cano, shaded more toward first because of the possibility of a bunt, held the ball after recording the forceout.
"He was further away from double-play depth than he normally would be,'' Girardi said. "I don't know if he can turn that because he's in a dead sprint across the bag.''