One night after an offensive outburst so drastic that it resulted in two Red Sox pitchers being dismissed from the team, Friday's contest between the Yankees and the Red Sox lived up to the considerable hype, billing it as the best pitching matchup in a series loaded with quality on both sides of the chalk.
A heavyweight bout between former Marlins young-gun hurlers Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett, both pitchers stifled the opposition's lineup during their part of the 15-inning marathon that ensued due in no small part to their contributions of dominance. It was a game that was the polar opposite of the Yankees' Thursday blowout of the Red Sox that featured affluent offensive and very little quality pitching. The result of the antithetical proceedings of Friday's contest produced arguably the best game played yet this year in all of baseball.
The headline story of the first half of this epic matchup was the flawless starting pitching by both men apposing each other on the mound. Josh Beckett immediately silenced a Yankee offense that posted 13 runs only the night before, allowing zero runs over seven innings, striking out seven and walking only two. Beckett — pulled apparently because of his pitch count — was masterful as he mowed through the talented Yankee lineup with power, command and efficiency.
His former Marlins' teammate, and opposition for the day, was even better. Over 7 1/3 innings AJ Burnett allowed only one hit (to Jacoby Ellsbury, the first batter in the first inning) and struck out six while walking six. Burnett erased the memory of his last brutal start against Boston in Fenway back in June in which he lasted only 2 2/3 innings, plowing through the Red Sox lineup featuring great velocity if not outstanding command. He was effectively wild and threw strikes when it counted, completely shutting down the Boston lineup after the first batter of the game.
When both starters exited the game, the score stood at a 0-0 gridlock, and it would stay that way for the next seven innings that followed. Both team's showed off the depth and skill of their respective bullpens (although neither may have enough arms left to finish the series), with Boston using eight pitchers (including Beckett) while the Yankees sent six men to the mound themselves.