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Bobby Valentine has had a rough week. First his sideshow debacle with Kevin Youkilis, and now another loss to the Yankees has the rage of the city of Boston at his office door. It looked like a brilliant day early on at Fenway Park late Saturday afternoon, with Felix Doubront quieting the high-powered Yankees offense over six dominant innings, but then the Boston bullpen showed up and surrendered consecutive 7-run innings in the 7th and 8th, resulting in a terrible 15-9 loss. The game represented everything that has gone wrong for the Sox in 2012.
The one thing that has gone right all season has been the offense for the hot Sox lineup, which battered Yankees starter Freddy Garcia early and often, knocking him out after just 1.2 innings of work. Garcia was tagged for five earned runs, including RBI doubles from David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning. Ortiz was 4-4 on the day, reaching base five times and raising his average to .436.
The Yankees bullpen didn’t exactly stop the bleeding in the early going. Cody Ross hammered a 2-run home run to center field, scoring Jarrod Saltalamacchia to give the Red Sox a 9-0 game which looked like an inevitable win. Saltalamacchia had four hits of his own, including two doubles. The nine sox runs were knocked in by seven different batters.
Things changed dramatically in the second half of the action, as the Yankees began a remarkable comeback. Mark Teixeira got things started with a solo home run in the sixth, the only run surrendered by Doubront. But the next inning when Bobby Valentine sent his bullpen was when things unraveled.
Vincente Padilla was first up, allowing one out singles to Russell Martin and Eduardo Nunez before walking Derek Jeter to load the bases. Nick Swisher came up to bat, and prompting smashed a grand slam on the first pitch to quickly bring the Yankees within four runs, down 9-5. Padilla allowed a double Robinson Cano before being pulled, with his season ERA rising to 9.82.
Next was Matt Albers, who was not much better. Alex Rodriguez reached on an error by shortstop Mike Aviles, who had an awful game defensively. With runners on the corners, Teixeira hit his second home run in as many at bats to cut the lead to 9-8, as the mood at Fenway was swiftly becoming angrier. Albers was pulled by Valentine, who began to hear boos of his own.
Franklin Morales came in and actually managed to finish the inning without further damage, but didn’t last in the following frame following a lead off single to Nunez. Alfredo Aceves came in to attempt making the mess worse, tasking with potentially recording the final six outs as the Boston closer. Instead he walked Jeter before allowing a deep 2-run double to Swisher, giving New York a dramatic 10-9 lead.
Then Valentine ordered an intentional walk to Cano which was followed by an additional walk to Rodriguez to load the bases for Teixeira. Again the Yankees’ first baseman delivered with a crushing ground rule double down the right field line by the Pesky Pole. With still no one out in the inning, Aceves intentionally walked Curtis Granderson before being relieved by Andrew Thomas. Aceves allowed five earned runs and eventually the loss.
Thomas got pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez to line into an unassisted double play by Adrian Gonzalez, but then Martin doubled to center where Ross looked confused fielding fly balls all day long. Two more Yankees came in to score on the play, and runners were on the corners again after Thomas allowed another base hit to Nunez. Valentine received even more boos when he visited the mound to get Thomas, and even tipped his cap to the fans as he listened to the crowd on his way back to the dugout.
In the end the Sox lost a game that should have been an easy victory. They drop to 4-10 on the season, 4.5 games behind the now first-place Yankees. They will look to avoid the sweep on Sunday, when Daniel Bard attempts to pick up his first win of the season against CC Sabathia. For now, we can question what can be done to fix this team and whether or not Bobby Valentine can manage in Boston, where on Saturday it seemed like frustration amongst fans turned into hate.