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There's been a lot to like from this first Yankees-Red Sox series of the 2014 season. The Yanks have gotten generally good starting pitching in all 3 games, with only a few bad pitches making CC and Hirok's lines look worse than they actually pitched. The D-Rob-less bullpen has looked very good, with Dellin Betances and Adam Warren looking more and more like legitimate middle relief weapons. And the middle of the order is starting to come around now that Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano are hitting consistently and Brian McCann broke out of his early slump with 2 jacks on Saturday.
The perfect capper to this positive series would be a victory tonight to secure the series victory, and that's a perfect situation for the first AB4AR live blog of 2014. By now you know there won't be any Jeter in tonight's lineup. Here's how the Yankee will look without him:
1) Brett Gardner- LF
2) Carlos Beltran- RF
3) Jacoby Ellsbury- CF
4) Alfonso Soriano- DH
5) Brian McCann- C
6) Yangervis Solarte- 2B
7) Kelly Johnson- 3B
8) Francisco Cervelli- 1B
9) Dean Anna- SS
SP) Ivan Nova
First pitch is a little over a half hour away. Live blog goes live after the jump.
6:37 PM- It's easy to get worked up about the Jeter injury situation, and I probably should be more concerned than I am, but I don't think it's a huge deal. Joe wouldn't come out and say he was definitely going to play on Tuesday if the quad was bad. I think he's just taking advantage of the chance to give his older shortstop 2 more days of rest when he can.
6:38 PM- Why did the Yankees pass on Yoenis Cespedes again? I'll never understand that one.
6:42 PM- I will say this about Joe's decision to sit Jeter. If he wanted to see how far he could stretch Jeter early to set a barometer for what Jeter's regular rest schedule should be, I'd prefer he not resort to playing Jeter until his legs tighten up or tire out on him. 7 days in a row this early in the season is a little much.
6:46 PM- Sounds like a lot of good news on the Teix hamstring front. He was jogging on the field before yesterday's game and he was out hitting during BP before tonight's game. Getting him in a few MiL games this week would be a sign that he may actually be activated next Sunday.
6:55 PM- One of Nova and Doubront better have it tonight. I'm really not interested in watching a 4-hour game tonight.
7:00 PM- "B-Nugs", huh? Whatever you say, Barry. Try a little harder to be Stu Scott.
7:01 PM- Love me some Dan Shulman. Sneaky the best play-by-play guy at ESPN.
7:04 PM- I've tried a few things on Taco Bell's breakfast menu. They didn't blow me away by any means. But you have to respect them going right at McDonald's with the add campaign. Just walking right into the yard at the fastfood breakfast jail and punching the biggest, baddest motherfucker in the place right in the jaw.
7:07 PM- Not much of a lineup Boston's putting out there. Pedroia being out is a big part of that, but still. There's not much there that really scares you.
7:10 PM- That at-bat by Bogaerts was everything that's wrong with Nova right now. Can't throw his curveball where he needs to to put guys away and constantly missing up in the zone with his fastball.
7:12 PM- This is the first game I've really gotten to sit and watch live this season, so it's my first look at the new shift-heavy defensive strategy. Still not sure I like it from the Yankees' perspective given the collective experience and athleticism of their infielders, but it's a no-brainer against David Ortiz
7:13 PM- Nova got away with a curveball up there. Looked like Ortiz wasn't expecting it.
7:16 PM- Nice pitch by Nova to come back with a heater on the outside corner for strike 3. I thought he got jobbed on that 2-2 pitch and he reacted like he thought so too. Good to see him not lose focus and execute the next pitch.
7:20 PM- Damn! Nice catch by Nava. That's the difference between being Brett Gardner and being a hitter with actual power. Gardner yanked that and still didn't get enough of it.
7:21 PM- Love Beltran in the 2-spot. Get him more ABs while he's heating up.
7:24 PM- HD sound quality on that first base mic. Too bad we'll only get to hear it on check throws to hold runners.
7:25 PM- 3 batters, 3 line drive hits off Doubront to start, and the Yanks have runners at 2nd and 3rd. He isn't fooling any of the Yankee hitters.
7:27 PM- That is idiotic base running by Ellsbury there. Where the hell are you going, dude?? Just stay on second, stay in scoring position, and let the run score.
7:29 PM- Now that I think about it, shame on Beltran for loafing home from 3rd base too. I'm sure he thought Ellsbury was going to stay put, but you never assume anything. Run hard all the way and he probably gets home before Ellsbury gets tagged out. Bad fundamental baseball all around.
7:34 PM- Jesus Christ. Nova was cruising and now he has a ball go off his foot for a base hit into right field. Even when the guy's getting what he wants he can't catch a break. At least he's not hurt.
7:36 PM- Actually, John, I hope they have to do multiple surgeries on Dustin Pedroia's wrist. I hope they have to hack his hand off and rebuild a mechanical replica like he was Luke Skywalker. And I hope the rehab from it takes 18 months. Fuck Dustin Pedroia.
7:38 PM- And Nova can't put bottom-of-the-order hitters away and he gives up a 2-out RBI single. This is all the bad stuff we've seen before.
7 :39 PM- Nice throw by Gardner to bail Nova out. That looked like it was going to start spiraling downward on him.
7:42 PM- Memo to H&R Block: That weird dude in the bowtie was cool when he was saying "Getchour billion back, America!" He's not so much when he's dancing around in the rain and pretending to be sexually aroused by money while "Reunited" plays in the background. Figure it out.
7:44 PM- Just saw this report come through by George King, but apparently Brian Roberts has some kind of back problem that kept him out of tonight's lineup. Brian Cashman said he's "not sure if it's serious," but this doesn't sound good for a guy with Roberts' long injury history. And with Teix out and Jeter's quad tightening up, the Yankees can ill afford to lose another infielder.
7:49 PM- Kruk just DESTROYING Doubront for losing his command here. Actually pretty funny. Calm down, John. It's the 2nd inning.
7:53 PM- Good to hear Yankee Stadium give Ortiz the boo he always deserves. Good to hear anything from the crow in The Stadium. The fans haven't exactly been filling the place in the early going.
7:55 PM- Shift did its thing there. Ortiz hit it right to Kelly Johnson and Nova gets a quick 2 outs. Let's see if he can finish this inning off in a quick and painless manner.
7:58 PM- It took 8 pitches to get Napoli to ground out after a 1-2 count, but he did ground out so I'll call that relatively quick and painless.
8:02 PM- Lineup turns back around for the first time in the bottom of the 3rd. Yanks hit a lot of balls hard against Doubront the first time through.
8:07 PM- What is up with Gardner and his slow trigger to run this season? What is he waiting for???
8:08 PM- Oh, that. That's what he was waiting for. For Carlos to smack a 2-run homer to left. Doubront left it up, Beltran didn't miss it, and the Yanks are on the board and in the lead 2-1.
8:09 PM- Was that Cervelli and Beltran's handshake? A game of patty cake?? That's fantastic.
8:14 PM- Ellsbury covered a lot of ground and made that catch look easy. Dude is going to be really good out there.
8:18 PM- He put a runner on base for consistency's sake, but that was a quick, clean inning for Nova after getting the lead. 2 more of those and I'll be a happy man.
8:23 PM- Brian McCann took a leadoff walk, everybody! The guy definitely reads my shit. You're welcome, Big Mac. You're welcome.
8:25 PM- And Doubront has lost the zone. 2 walks to start the inning and Johnson coming up. Wouldn't mind seeing him yoke one into the 2nd deck in right if Doubront tries to sneak a show me fastball down the middle for a strike.
8:26 PM- Fielder's choice groundout isn't what I had in mind, but it still leaves a RISP with 1 out and Frankie can punish lefties.
8:27 PM- And down goes Cervelli. Grabbed at his right hamstring as he tried to beat out that double play ball. Looked like a pull for sure. Not good.
8:31 PM- Well the Yanks will get a run on Joe's challenge of the call, so good on Cervelli for busting his ass down the line.
8:34 PM- Ichiro does the pinch running for Cervelli, so maybe we're going to see Beltran at first base. If not, Joe might have to use Jeter.
8:36 PM- Beltran it is. Ichiro goes to right. And John Farrell got tossed after the call was overturned. That's part of the new replay rules. Can't blame him though, after replay malfunction boned him on the Anna call yesterday.
8:39 PM- And the Yankees have no bench at all for the rest of this game. Ichiro's in, Jeter and Roberts are out with injuries. Better not go to extra innings.
8:42 PM- If I'm Beltran, I'm absolutely terrified at first right now with Ortiz at the plate.
8:43 PM- And he juuuuuust missed tying the game right there. Got away with another one, Ivan. Let's not throw that one to him again.
8:46 PM- "Paging, Mr. Romine. Mr. Romine, you're wanted in The Bronx... "
8:47 PM- That's 3 plate appearances and 3 good at-bats for Gardner tonight. 2 hits and 1 smoking liner that should have been a double.
8:51 PM- Still not stealing, but good job by Gardner of moving up to second base on that deep Beltran flyout. Rs in SP are always good no matter how you get them there.
8:55 PM- Leading candidate for "shitty swing of the night" goes to that hack job by Soriano to end the 5th. The ball bounced well in front of the plate and he still swung.
8:59 PM- Hanger City from Nova on that pitch to Napoli to start off the 6th. Awful. And the boo birds are out in The Stadium. Fans remember the last 2 versions of Good Nova/Bad Nova and they aren't interested in watching a third.
9:01 PM- Niiiiiice pick by Dean Anna for the second out. He's looked pretty good out there to me. Can definitely handle the position.
9:06 PM- How did that ball not get out?? That sounded like money off the bat. Still good to see McCann smoking the ball and having something to show for it. He's coming around.
9:07 PM- Now Solarte is hurt. Fucking unbelievable.
9:08 PM- Joe said before the game he would use Jeter "in an emergency". If Solarte has to come out, that would constitute an emergency, right?
9:14 PM- Solarte stays in at second. Crisis averted. For now.
9:16 PM- Slick scoop by Johnson at third for the second out of the 7th inning. He looks like he's getting comfortable there.
9:17 PM- I totally forgot that Curt Schilling has cancer. Is that bad?
9:19 PM- Lotta really deep flyball outs for Nova tonight. There's been at least 3 or 4 that I've been concerned about off the bat. But they've all stayed in the yard. 3-2 Yanks heading to the bottom of the 7th.
9:20 PM- Still no word on Cervelli's condition. The story is starting to trickle out on all the major media outlets. There is something out on Brian Roberts though. Apparently he went for a precautionary MRI on his back this morning and it came back negative. The plan is to keep him out for a few days and then re-evaluate.
9:28 PM- Beltran looks like he's locking in at the plate. He's been on Doubront all night and just roped a double into the corner for his 3rd hit of the night. Just a triple away from the cycle now. Doubront coming out, reliever coming in. Yanks could use an insurance run or 2.
9:31 PM- Chris Capuano in to face Ellsbury with 2 outs. Big AB for the big money new guy...
9:34 PM- And he gets Ellsbury to roll over to second base on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat. To the 8th we go. Let's see how long a leash Joe gives to Ivan.
9:37 PM- Only going to be the 1 batter. Joe's not interested in having Nova face Ortiz again and he's going to go to his lefty Matt Thornton for that. Mixing and matching here in the 8th.
9:39 PM- Solid outing for Nova too. He wasn't that great early but he started to find the feel for his sinker in the later innings. He got some GB outs, struck a few batters out. Definitely a step in the right direction.
9:41 PM- WHAT A CATCH BY ICHIRO!!!! It may not have gotten out, but that was definitely going to be a double and Ichiro laid out to make a play and rob Ortiz. Spectacular play. Not a chance in hell Beltran makes that catch.
9:42 PM- Back to the bullpen. Phelpsie coming in to face Napoli with 2 down.
9:52 PM- Phelps gives up a double to Napoli and a long battle of a walk to Daniel Nava, but Joe leaves him in to face A.J. Pierzynski. Might be the ballgame right here...
9:53 PM- Oh no. That HBP hit McCann's free hand. He's in a lot of pain and the replay looked really bad. The Yanks don't have another catcher. What a fucking disaster this night has been healthwise.
9:55 PM- McCann's gonna stay in there and Phelps has walked the bases loaded after 2 outs from Nova and Thornton. Mike Carp up to pinch hit.
9:59 PM- And Phelps gets him with the hook! Big pitch from Phelps after a nail biter of an inning and the Yanks go the bottom of the 8th with the 3-2 lead intact.
10:00 PM- Bears mentioning that McCann did a fantastic job of framing on the inside corner in that inning. There were at least 3 borderline strikes that he got calls on because of how he framed it. Phelps wasn't commanding his fastball on either corner, but McCann did a lot to help create an inner half of the strike zone for him.
10:03 PM- Soriano didn't miss that one by much. Would have been huge.
10:05 PM- McCann did not look comfortable holding or swinging that bat there. Can't imagine his right hand is feeling good after making contact.
10:15 PM- Shawn Kelley comes in and goes 1-2-3 for the save in the 9th. Looked real good striking out the first 2 and Ellsbury made another nice, rangy catch to wrap it up. Lot of injury shit to talk about tomorrow, but I'll take the W given the circumstances. Recap tomorrow morning. Nighty night for now.