Just two and a half games separate the Yankees and the Red Sox atop the American League East…
But both pitchers battled it out with tough defense behind them and the crowd screaming for more.
Boston got on the board in the first inning. After a Nomar Garciaparra walk – a theme that would plague Wells in this game – Manny Ramirez doubled high off the wall in center field to drive in the run and give Boston a 1-0 lead.
Posada's homerun tied it at one, but Johnny Damon connected on an RBI single in the next frame to give Boston back the lead and for a while it looked like Pedro would stay in command for the rest of the game.
But a high pitch count would take its toll on the Boston ace. In the fifth inning, Pedro gave up a leadoff single to Bernie Williams and then another hit to Posada to put runners on the corners. Nick Johnson – who singled in his first at bat since coming off the DL – hit a soft ground ball to second base allowing Bernie to score from third and tie the game at two.
In the seventh, Pedro ran into more trouble. Enrique Wilson, who has unexpectedly good numbers against Martinez, singled to lead off the frame. He moved to second on a wild pitch that went behind Alfonso Soriano, then stole third. Two outs later, Williams struck what appeared to be the finishing blow, a single to right to put the Yankees up 3-2.
But this game was far from over.
In the eighth, with Armando Benitez moving into his second inning of work, David Ortiz singled with one out. Pinch runner Damian Jackson stole second and moved to third on a passed ball, forcing Benitez from the game.
Mariano Rivera, who has been so impressive this season, came on to close the door – but couldn't. He finished the walk that Benitez had started to Trot Nixon, then gave up a flare single to center by Jason Varitek to tie the game. For Rivera, it was just his second blown save of the year.
So the game moved to the ninth inning, where the Sox called on closer Byung Hyun Kim. Kim, who has failed against the Yankees in tight situations before (remember the 2001 World Series), allowed another leadoff single to Wilson. Wilson stole second base – his second steal of the game – and moved to third on Soriano's ground ball out. Derek Jeter then lifted a sacrifice fly to centerfield to give the Yankees their final lead of the game.
But the game was still not over. Rivera, also suffering from an already inflated pitch count, allowed a one-out double to Garciaparra. After walking Manny Ramirez semi-intentionally, Rivera struck out Kevin Millar on a high fastball to bring up Jeremy Giambi with two out. Giambi finally lined out to second base to end the game and give Rivera the win.
Rivera (5-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out two.
Jesse Orosco made his debut for the Yankees a successful one, coming on to strike out Johnny Damon with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning. He retired Todd Walker to lead off the seventh as well before coming out for Benitez.
Kim (3-3) took the loss, giving up a run for the first time since moving to Boston's bullpen.
Pedro Martinez set a new season high for pitches thrown in a game by tossing 128 while fighting out the seventh inning. He ended up lasting 6 2/3, allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks while fanning 10. Scott Sauerbeck made his Boston debut to finish the seventh by striking out Hideki Matsui with a filthy curveball.
Game two of the series will be on Saturday at 1:15 pm. Mike Mussina (11-6, 3.30) will take the mound for the Yankees to square off against Boston's John Burkett (8-4, 5.25). If game two is anything like game one, baseball fans are in for quite the treat.