Whatever ailed us in Tampa over the weekend was quickly fixed in New York during a quick two-game sweep of the Yanks. The Sox ran their record against the Pinstripes to 5-0 on the year and earned a split of the six-game road swing among their top two preseason rivals for the division crown.
Both games seemed like almost carbon copies, with modest adjustments made in the sequel. Consider the following similarities:
--In both games, Boston seized an early 4-0 lead.
--In both games, New York closed to 4-3 in a single inning, keyed by a big Johnny Damon home run.
--In both games, Boston pulled away in the eighth inning against the bullpen.
--In both games, a struggling Boston ace (Lester & Beckett) got on track.
--In both games, the Sox roughed up a young Yankee phenom (Hughes & Chamberlain).
--In both games, Jason Bay hit a huge home run.
Bay just keeps coming through. On Monday, his two-run shot in the eighth provided the key insurance in securing a 6-4 win. On Tuesday he got started early, with a three-run bomb that made it 4-0 before Joba Chamberlain even had an out. With seven home runs, Bay is slugging .644, 9th in the American League. He's getting on base at an even more proficient rate, as his .487 on-base percentage ranks second in the AL to only Youkilis. Undoubtedly a big relief to Theo Epstein, as Bay's performance keeps any Red Sox fans from having a straying eye out west where Manny is off to a big start of his own.
The New York bullpen continues to let Joe Girardi down. The key late runs were scored off names like Alfredo Aceves, Jonathan Albaladejo and Mark Melancon. This reminds me of the 2000 Washington Redskins, who spent all kinds of money in free agency and then ended up blowing three games because we didn't have a decent kicker.
Boston comes home to Fenway for a five-game homestand that runs through the rest of Week 5. It starts with a two-game set against Cleveland on Wednesday and Thursday.