Red Sox fans went to Fenway Park disappointed after finding out David Ortiz bobblehead night was no more thanks to what looked like an epic manufacturing gaffe.
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) August 9, 2016
Fans left the ballpark in better spirits after the Red Sox won the series opener against the Yankees, 5-3, behind the bats of Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Benintendi.
Top Play (WPA): Pedroia had a pair of big hits for the Red Sox on Tuesday night. The biggest, as far as WPA is concerned, came in the bottom of the third when his two-run double (+.144) scored Benintendi and Mookie Betts, tying the game at 2-2.
The comeback started with Benintendi’s first hit at Fenway Park – a one-out single to left field. Betts followed with a double to deep left to put two runners in scoring position for Pedroia.
Sandy Leon led off the fifth with a triple (+.124) that sparked a three-run burst that gave the Sox a 5-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Leon’s three-bagger was followed by RBI from Benintendi, Pedroia and David Ortiz.
Bottom Play (WPA): Craig Kimbrel made us all uncomfortable in the top of the ninth. Holding a 5-2 lead, Kimbrel walked four batters to cut the Yankees’ deficit to 5-3 with the bases loaded and two outs. John Farrell pulled the closer in favor of Matt Barnes, who struck out Mark Teixeira (-.148) to end the game.
Key Moment: Perhaps the most exciting moment came in the bottom of the fifth when Benintendi hit what looked like his first career home run. The ball hit the yellow line separating the left field wall and the bleachers in center, but was ruled a double following instant replay.
You be the judge:
The double scored Leon to give the Sox a 3-2 lead. Pedroia followed with a double to right to score Benintendi and David Ortiz singled home Pedroia. Safe to say justice was served.
Jackie Bradley provided another highlight-reel play, but this time with his arm. Bradley robbed Chase Headley of a triple with a ridiculous throw while falling backward in deep center. That was followed by a benches-clearing dustup between Rick Porcello and Headley that ultimately became nothing.
Trend to Watch: Pedroia was human again following his 11-game hitting streak, going 2-for-17 over the next five games. The struggles didn’t last long, however, as he collected two hits and three RBI on Tuesday.
Benintendi needed time to adjust to Double-A upon being called up earlier this season, leading to early struggles. The 22-year-old has wasted no time proving he belongs in the big leagues. He’s hitting .385 six games into his major-league career after a three-hit performance that saw him score twice and drive in a run.
Kimbrel’s ugly ninth is part of a greater problem the closer has had with walks all season. He owned a career-worst 4.1 BB/9 before walking four of the six batters he faced Tuesday night.
I’m obliged to note that Porcello was once again very good. The right-hander gave up two runs and struck out six over eight innings, marking the third straight game in which he’s gone at least eight frames.
Coming Next: The two teams play the middle game of the series with Drew Pomeranz taking on Nathan Eovaldi. Pomeranz is coming off is start in which he allowed just two runs over six innings, but also walked six Mariners. The lefty has a 5.99 FIP in four starts with the Red Sox. Eovaldi has a 4.12 ERA in his last three outings.
Photo by Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports Images