BOSTON -- On top of everything else, you were expecting a good game out of the Red Sox? Getting a little greedy, aren’t you?
The birthday party was a ball. The game? Eh, not so much, unless your idea of fun at the (very) ol’ ballpark is seeing how many times the Yankees would jog around the bases against Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz.
The Bombers’ home run carousel stopped at five against Buchholz, who in a century of playing games at Fenway Park -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- is one of just four Red Sox starters to give up five or more home runs in a game. The mind-numbing aspect of that stat? This year’s staff has done it twice in the first 13 games.
Josh Beckett did it in the second game of the season in Detroit. Buchholz did it in six innings Friday afternoon. Beckett and Buchholz both have had two five-homer games in their careers. So did the freshly retired Tim Wakefield, who was on the premises for the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway. Dennis Eckersley, who also was here, was the first to do it, in 1979.
Buchholz likely would not have been granted the opportunity to dispatch so many balls off the premises except that all five home runs came with the bases empty, which kept the score reasonably close, especially with a breeze from the south blowing toward left field.
But while Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez (twice), Alex Rodriguez (Landsdowne Street) and Russell Martin (screamer off the Sports Authority sign) all went deep for the Yankees, the Sox were able to answer only with David Ortiz’s second-inning home run (granted only after umpire review) and doubles by Cody Ross and Mike Aviles that accounted for Boston’s other run in the fourth.
The Red Sox were just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position against Ivan Nova and four Yankees relievers. That only means more pressure may soon be brought to bear on catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was just 2 for his first 28 until opening the ninth inning with a groundball single.
The best thing Salty had going for him Friday is that the Sox throwback uniforms did not bear either a name or number, so there might have been a few folks in the crowd of 36,770 who had no idea who he was.
Many fans do know, however, who is clamoring for a chance to catch in the big leagues -- Ryan Lavarnway, who after a great spring has six hits, including two home runs, in his last three games for Triple-A Pawtucket.
After ceremonies in which 212 former Sox players gathered at the positions where they once plied their trade and former manager Terry Francona received a thunderous ovation, it took only six minutes for the Yankees to take the lead over the Sox in their ice cream hats on the first day of the rest of Fenway’s life.
Dustin Pedroia, fighting the midafternoon sun, dropped Derek Jeter’s popup to open the game, Jeter took second when Buchholz threw a wild pitch over Saltalamacchia’s head, and Rodriguez then lined an RBI single to center.
Swisher and Chavez went deep a batter apart in the second to make it 3-0, and after Ortiz answered with a home run to left-center in the bottom of the inning, Chavez led off with a homer in the fourth and A-Rod hit the first pitch of the fifth to make it 5-1. Aviles doubled home Ross to make it 5-2 in the bottom of the inning, but Martin crushed No. 5 with two outs in the sixth.
When Buchholz walked Curtis Granderson to open the seventh, Bobby Valentine went to his bullpen to spare Buchholz any further psychic damage.
Meanwhile, the statmeisters were gleefully noting that the Sox have given up 23 home runs in their first 13 games. In 1912, the cause of all of today's fuss, the Sox gave up 18 home runs in 154 games.