Yankees unleash Godzilla upon Boston
AL East leaders use 23-hit attack to rout rivals in opener
BOSTON -- There aren't many zeroes to ask the Yankees about these days, and that's the way they like it. Not only does it free them from certain media responsibilities, but it's also the mark of a very good team.
Having finally showed they could beat the Red Sox earlier this month, the Yankees now proved in convincing fashion that they can also win at Fenway Park, outblasting their division rivals to post a 20-11 victory on Friday.
It's the most runs New York has scored against Boston since a 22-1 rout on June 19, 2000 at Fenway.
"We lost three games in a row twice here this season, so I think it was very important for us to set the tone in the first game of this series," said Hideki Matsui, who hit a pair of three-run homers and drove in a career-high seven as part of New York's 23-hit attack.
Coming off a four-game sweep of the Red Sox 12 days ago at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees kept their second-half surge alive and moved 7 1/2 games ahead of their archrival in the American League East. It's difficult to believe this is the same team that lost eight consecutive games to Boston earlier this year.
"It's baseball," Derek Jeter said. "That's why you can't punch it all into a computer and figure out who's going to win. You could try, but I bet you wouldn't figure this out."
The pounding was historic in nature: the two clubs combined to score 31 runs on Friday, the most in a game between the franchises, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The previous record had been set in a 15-14 New York win on July 29, 1903 -- nine years before the first fans pushed through the turnstiles of ancient Fenway Park.
"It was incredible," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The good thing is we kept tacking on. They kept coming back as well. Big nights ... up and down the lineup."
Alex Rodriguez had four hits, including his first triple since 2006, and Melky Cabrera logged four safeties. Jeter and Mark Teixeira each added three hits to help the Yankees, who won their fifth consecutive game against Boston and improved to 26-8 since the All-Star break.
"I can tell you one thing: That's not the team we played two months ago," Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said. "We've got to keep that in mind. They have a lot of good players, and they've found a way to put themselves together. We've been watching that for years."
The Yankees pounded Boston starter Brad Penny for eight runs on 10 hits through four-plus innings. Penny allowed a two-run single to Jorge Posada in the first inning and four more runs in the second, highlighted by a two-run Teixeira double, before New York blew the game open with a six-run fifth inning.
New York sent 12 men to the plate in the lengthy fifth. Matsui greeted reliever Michael Bowden with a three-run homer and Posada added a run-scoring double. Cabrera and Teixeira also had RBIs in the inning.
"It was just good offense overall," Matsui said. "We were able to put together small ball and home runs, and have a very productive inning."
Though his final line didn't come off as impressive, Yankees starter Andy Pettitte pitched into the sixth inning, limiting the Red Sox to a Victor Martinez sacrifice fly until the fifth, when Jacoby Ellsbury stroked a two-run single and Dustin Pedroia added a RBI double.
"It seemed like the long inning got to him," Girardi said. "He was throwing the ball great up until that point. He did what he had to do for us tonight."
Pettitte faced three batters in the sixth, with Robinson Cano committing a throwing error and Cabrera misplaying an Ortiz RBI single. Pettitte completed the night in line for his 10th victory, but was saddled with seven runs (five earned) in five-plus innings.
"No excuses. I should have gone deeper into the game," Pettitte said. "I hate it that my pitch count got up so high. I felt good, the results -- as far as the numbers and stuff -- wasn't exactly what I wanted, but we got a win. That was the big thing, and the guys are feeling good about themselves, swinging the bats well."
The Yankees' bullpen ensured that those who remained late in the night at Fenway Park never lost complete hope, owning seats in a ballpark where no lead seems secure.
That kept the onus on an offense that rapped Bowden for seven runs, while also touching Manny Delcarmen (one run in the seventh) and Ramon Ramirez (four runs in the ninth, three earned).
"The good thing is that we kept tacking on, because they kept coming back as well," Girardi said.
Brian Bruney struggled in a mop-up appearance, issuing a bases-loaded walk to Rocco Baldelli among the three free passes and a hit batsman he allowed in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Damaso Marte -- activated from the disabled list before Friday's game -- was summoned in the seventh inning and recorded two outs to leave the bases loaded, including a strikeout of Ortiz.
But Sergio Mitre, transitioned to a long-relief role this time through the rotation, was hit for four runs in two innings, walking four and serving up a solo homer to Jason Varitek in the ninth inning.
"We were fortunate," Jeter said. "We swung the bats well and didn't pitch the way we wanted to, but you get away with some things when you score that many runs."
The last Yankees pitcher to win a game at Fenway Park had been Mike Mussina, who retired shortly after beating the Red Sox in the first game of an otherwise meaningless September doubleheader, with Boston having clinched the AL Wild Card and the Bombers heading home.
Here, with both clubs in the thick of a pennant race, the Yankees finally posted a Yawkey Way victory bathed in much more meaning.
"Nobody's thinking about what happened in April and May when we're playing them," Jeter said. "If you're carrying games that happened in April and May around, you're not going to be a very good team. You have to have a short memory."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.