The Red Sox took two out of three from the Yankees, and five out of their first six meetings with a 7-4 win in The Bronx on Sunday. I was hoping for 4 of 6 in the first two series, so seeing them take five was just superb. The Red Sox conclude April in first place with a record of 16-8 and a four game lead over Toronto in the AL East.
David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Alex Cora hit homers (yes, Alex Cora, who just missed a second that wound up being a triple) to pace the Red Sox attack. Julian Tavarez got the win after pitching five decent innings. (Getting a win by Tavarez over the Yankees is like "finding a $1000 in the street," I said after the game.)
The Red Sox bullpen continues to dominate, as Hideki Okajima (pictured) relieved Tavarez and shut down the Yankees in the sixth and seventh. Mike Timlin gave up a home run to Derek Jeter in the eighth but Jonathan Papelbon picked up his eighth save after closing it out. Pap is simply one of the best closers in the game right now, bar none.
But Okajima continues to be the story. He gave up a home run to John Buck on his first pitch in the majors on Opening Day and has allowed nothing since. Many thought he was signed from Japan just to be Daisuke Matsuzaka's best friend on the Red Sox, but boy, can this man pitch. He has become an extremely valuable member of the pen, and he can fill almost any role: closer, setup man, lefty specialist. He maybe best as an eighth inning man to bring the lead to Papelbon. Right now, they are the best 1-2 combo in any major league bullpen. "The Darkman" maybe the Red Sox best pickup of the off-season, and that includes fellow countryman Dice-K.
BTW, did anyone else notice that in the last five games, Alex Rodriguez hit exactly 0 home runs, and had 0 RBI? He tied the record for HRs in April in Tampa on Monday, and was one RBI away from that April record. He didn't break the HR record, and missed the RBI record. He's had exactly two hits since Monday, and they were on Sunday. And in his final at-bat of the month of April, he grounded into a double play to kill any chance of a Yankee rally in the eighth.
The genuflecting may finally be over. April is over for the Yankees, and it looks like the old A-Rod we know and love has returned. The booing in The Bronx will return shortly, mark my words.