BOSTON -- Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster lasted 5 2/3 innings Sunday night. Yankees starter CC Sabathia was able to go just five. The game between the old rivals played on into Monday morning, lasting 11 innings. Quick math would indicate that this one came down to the bullpens.
In the end, Boston’s was just a bit better.
“Got a great job by the guys in the bullpen,” said Dempster, who was pulled hours before Mike Napoli hit a walk-off homer in the 11th inning to cap a dramatic 8-7 victory. “The back end of the bullpen just shut down a team that was swinging the bat real well tonight and gave us a chance to get a guy like Nap up there to walk it off.”
After Craig Breslow allowed one earned run in relief of Dempster, five other Red Sox relievers combined to throw 4 2/3 scoreless innings. The Yankees were just as good, getting 5 2/3 scoreless from their pen and striking out 10 Boston hitters before Napoli took Adam Warren deep with two outs in the 11th.
The blast made a winner of Pedro Beato (1-0), who pitched a scoreless 11th to remain unscored upon in five outings with Boston this season. Beato is one of a handful of arms that have ridden the I-95 shuttle between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket. Three key Red Sox relievers have been lost for the season and roles have been up for grabs. Beato said that Sunday’s group effort was evidence that roles do not always mean much when the objective is the same for each guy.
“When called upon just do the job,” he said. “Just get people out and keep it where it is so our offense could do the job.”
Junichi Tazawa survived a 15-pitch walk to New York's Brett Gardner to escape further trouble in the seventh and Matt Thornton had his best performance since joining the Sox by tossing a 1-2-3 eighth. Closer Koji Uehara worked the ninth in a non-save situation and Drake Britton, pitching in consecutive games for the first time as a professional, navigated the 10th to set up Beato.
Manager John Farrell has seen Tazawa and Uehara do their thing. He reserved praise for the newly acquired Thornton and the youngsters, Britton and Beato.
“To his credit, his first two major league appearances are in some pretty tight spots and some high leverage situations and he’s handled them all,” Farrell said of Britton before turning his attention to Beato. “The one thing that Pedro’s shown [is] much improved arm strength from spring training. He was dealing with his shoulder issue, a little fatigue and not full in shape. And then as he’s pitched the three different times he’s been with us, he’s a strike thrower and his arm strength and power to the fastball continues to climb. Given where we are, those guys are going to get opportunities.”
Where the Red Sox are is in a situation that sees them go from Tazawa to Thornton to Uehara to Britton to Beato for a dramatic win over the Yankees to win the first series of the second half. That’s not the formula they expected to be using in late July, but it worked just fine Sunday night.