Takeaways from Bronx: Canada lies in wait

NEW YORK -- Takeaways from the Bronx, where you might have guessed that Lyle Overbay would somehow figure in this series, after the Yankees grabbed him within hours of his release by the Red Sox last week. Nothing like a broken-bat, two-run single to make the Bleacher Creatures enthusiastically chant your name during the next Yankees roll call.

* John Farrell projects rugged and went to college at Oklahoma State, but that’s about as close as he comes to having any cowboy in him. Farrell is the son of a lobsterman who grew up in New Jersey, much more comfortable on the open sea than on the open range.

Nonetheless, equipment manager Tom McLaughlin might want to fit Farrell with a black Stetson for the Sox trip to Toronto this weekend. Farrell can expect a sardonic serenade whenever he pops his head out of the dugout in Rogers Centre, where Blue Jays fans regard him as a bit of a Benedict Arnold in reverse. Arnold, of course, committed treason then moved to Canada; Farrell went the opposite way, abandoning the Blue Jays’ cause to take his dream job in Boston. Or at least that’s the prevailing storyline on Yonge Street.

Let the hyperventilating begin, although Farrell is trying hard to stay above the fray. Asked by Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe if he’s ever been cast as a villain before, Farrell answered, “I guess you could say starting tomorrow. I don’t know, villain or bad guy, whatever it might be, I can only say we look forward to the challenge that lies ahead of us.’’

Those aren’t exactly fighting words. Imagine what his predecessor would have come up with under the same circumstances. Ah, never mind. Let sleeping Bobbys lie.

* The Sox might want to bring their longballs to Toronto for the weekend. The Jays lost two out of three to Tito and the Tribe, but hit seven home runs, five in Thursday night’s 10-8 win over Terry Francona’s Indians.

The Sox, meanwhile, have no homers in their first three games, the first time they’ve gone this deep into a season without a home run since 1993, when they failed to homer in their first five games.

They came close a few times Thursday, Jackie Bradley Jr. hitting a ball off the bullpen wall in right-center for a double, and David Ross absolutely unloading on a pitch from Andy Pettitte that Brett Gardner hauled in on the track in left-center. Ross thought it was going out. With Bradley on second after his double brought home Will Middlebrooks, who had singled, a home run would have made the score 4-3.

“I hit that ball pretty good,’’ Ross said. “That’s all I’ve got. I don’t know if I’m getting old or what (he's 36). Yeah, I thought maybe we had him on the ropes there. You’ve got to tip your cap. They’re a scrappy team.’’ [And to think after the first two games the New York tabloids described the Yanks the same way, except they forgot the “s.’’]

Middlebrooks, who had a couple of singles Thursday, hit two balls Wednesday that on a warmer night probably had a chance to leave the premises, but hey, the Yankees were playing in the same conditions and went yard three times in the last two games.

* Ryan Dempster, with his mix of splitters, sliders and two-seamers, got 15 swings and misses Thursday, striking out eight. But his velocity averaged right around 88 mph, topping out at 91, and he threw 101 pitches, walking four. The very definition of a mixed bag.

But Overbay’s broken-bat single, which followed a two-out double by Eduardo Nunez that was a rocket, gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the second, and Brett Gardner golfed a low pitch into the front row of the right-field seats to make it 3-0.

“He threw the ball well,’’ Ross said of Dempster. “It stinks. Two broken-bat singles (the first by Travis Hafner to open the second inning) cost him two runs.

“I thought he made pretty quality pitches for the most part. A couple innings he wasn’t exactly sure where the ball was going but still threw the ball really well. The pitch to Gardner came back over the middle and he just barely hit it out. The double to Nunez is probably the pitch he’d want back.’’

* Dempster, who is now 0-5 with a 7.29 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees, said last night’s game was mostly about the man who pitched for the other side, Andy Pettitte, who allowed a run on eight hits and a walk in eight innings, and profited from three double plays turned behind him.

Respect? “I always have,’’ Dempster said, “for what he’s been able to do in his career, and then come out of retirement and pitch as well as he has. He’s such a hard worker, he’s the kind of guy you should look up to. He does things the right way. He goes about things the right way, and he really knows how to pitch.’’

* The Sox stirred in the first on singles by Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli, but Victorino was cut down trying to score from second on a wild pitch by Pettitte. The pitcher didn’t cover the plate, and when catcher Cervelli jogged after the ball, Victorino sensed an opportunity. But Cervelli recovered in time to smother Victorino at the plate, tagging his hand and catching his head with his shoulder.

“He sees where Pettitte is on the play and feels like he can beat him to home plate,’’ Farrell said. “Cervelli made a nice recovery.’’

Left standing at the plate was Jonny Gomes, who came into the game batting .364 (8-for-22) against Pettitte, with a team-best seven RBIs (not including the disabled David Ortiz).

“We’ve got a pretty good matchup with Gomes at the plate,’’ Farrell said. “He’s had some success against Pettitte, but Shane’s an aggressive baserunner and in this case it didn’t work out.’’

* Up in Portland, Stephen Drew went 0-for-3 with a whiff while playing shortstop in his first game of a rehab assignment. Drew is permitted five rehab games coming off the seven-day DL for players with concussion symptoms. The Sox are hopeful he’ll play four and rejoin the team for Monday’s home opener against the Orioles.

Drew’s replacement, Jose Iglesias, had two more hits, including his second bunt single in three games, and had seven hits in the series. He also made a terrific scoop and tag when Ross threw out Nunez trying to steal in the sixth. Ross cut down two baserunners attempting to steal, while Victorino threw out Gardner attempting to stretch a single into a double.

* Daniel Bard walked a batter, threw a wild pitch and gave up a home run to Yankees farmhand Neil Medchill in his first outing in Portland. It’s why the Sox call it a process, not a temporary assignment, as they try to set Bard back on course.

* Bradley, who took a called third strike from Mariano Rivera to end the game, could not help but smile when someone told him that Rivera broke into pro ball in 1990, the year Bradley was born.

“Wow,’’ he said. “You know, like I said, he really knows what he’s doing.’’

The last pitch, it was suggested, might have been borderline. “Too close to take,’’ Bradley said.

* With his appearance Wednesday, Rivera has pitched for the Yankees in 19 seasons, surpassing Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle for most seasons played with the Bombers in franchise history. That’s pretty good company.