Yankees - 202 040 010 - 9 15 0 Red Sox - 000 200 001 - 3 9 2Tanaka (7.1-7-2-0-7, 105) dominated the Red Sox - though David Ortiz and Mike Napoli did hit back-to-back home runs - and Lester (4.2-11-8-4-7, 118) stunk up the joint on a rainy night at Fenway, but this game was also the tale of two strike zones.
The unwritten rules of baseball state that rookies with only three games of major league experience have to "prove themselves" before they get the benefit of any doubts from the home plate umpire. Not so tonight. Home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott was more than happy to repeatedly call strikes for Tanaka on pitches both outside the strike zone and extremely low in the zone. But when Lester hit the exact same locations, Wolcott called those pitches balls.
What is the difference for a pitcher in getting a first-pitch strike? This year, about 200 points of OPS.
After 1-0 count: .261/.376/.416 After 0-1 count: .217/.260/.330Several of the balls that were called strikes for Tanaka were on the first pitch of the at-bat:
1st inning:At the same time, there were several pitches by Lester in the same spots that were not called strikes:
1st pitch to Ortiz
1st and 3rd pitches to Napoli
2nd and 3rd pitches to Brock Holt
2nd pitch to Ortiz
1st pitch to Xander Bogaerts
1st pitch to A.J. Pierzynski
3rd pitch to Holt
4th pitch to Grady Sizemore
1st inning:Although the blown pitches did not really harm Lester, Tanaka didn't need the extra help, either.
5th pitch to Brian McCann
5th and 6th pitches to Derek Jeter
1st pitch to Mark Teixeira
4th pitch to Ichiro Suzuki
NESN reported that Jacoby Ellsbury was "showered with boos" in each of his five plate appearances, but having listened to the network's own broadcast, I'd call that a bold-faced lie. For Ellsbury's first at-bat, the cheers clearly outnumbered the boos, though NESN, pushing its own fictional narrative early on, showed only anti-Ellsbury signs in the crowd. (As far I could tell, NESN did not show a positive Ellsbury sign all night.)
The man formerly known as LBJ drove Lester's third pitch to deep center field for a triple, a hit aided by fan interference. Jeter's first-pitch single made it 1-0. Two pitches later, Jeter raced to second on a passed ball and continued to third on Pierzynski's wild throw. CI scored on Carlos Beltran's single, putting Boston in a quick 2-0 hole.
Lester allowed three consecutive doubles to Alfonso Soriano, Teixeira, and McCann begin the third, and New York led 4-0. Lester threw 72 pitches in the first three innings. The two Boston dongs cut that advantage in half, but the Yankees added four more runs in the fifth, with Ellsbury's two-run double sending the Boston lefty to the showers.
Sizemore, RFTanaka has made three starts for the Yankees, allowing only five earned runs (2.05 ERA). More impressively, in his 22 innings, he has struck out 28 batters while walking only two.
Tanaka's 28 Ks are the most ever for a Yankees pitcher in his first three career starts. He joins Stephen Strasburg (2010 Nationals) as the only two pitchers since 1900 to strikeout at least eight batters in each of his first three MLB starts. Tanaka has struck out 10 batters in each of his last two starts.
Looking forward to seeing him pitch. Anyone who's a fan of the game would want to see [him]. Have only seen highlights or video of him prior to signing with New York. We know he's got a well-above-average split-fingered fastball. ... What probably has been as impressive as anything is the pretty quick transition into the major leagues.Although the Red Sox are 13th in the American League in batting average (.238), they actually have a higher on-base percentage than the Yankees (.325 to .322). New York has a slight edge in runs per game (3.95 - 3.80).
Tonight is also Jacoby Ellsbury's first game at Fenway since signing a seven-year contract with the Yankees. ... Lester's ERA over four starts is 2.17. ... Shane Victorino will continue his rehab assignment with Pawtucket tonight and could return to the Red Sox on Wednesday. ... The Yankees won three of the four games the teams played on April 10-13.