It felt like old times tonight in the Bronx, as Andy Pettitte tossed eight innings of one-ball and Mariano Rivera notched the save as the Yankees topped the Red Sox 4-2 for the team’s first victory of the 2013 season.
Pettitte was in control for most of the night, scattering eight hits while striking out three and walking just one. The 40-year-old southpaw held the Red Sox off the board until Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered an RBI double with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. He needed just 94 pitches to make it through eight innings.
Pettitte eventually gave way to Rivera, who made things interesting in his first regular season appearance since his knee injury last May. The 43-year-old right-hander gave up a leadoff walk to Dustin Pedroia and a one-out double to Jonny Gomes to bring the tying run to the plate. However, after Will Middlebrooks grounded out to drive in a run, Rivera was able to strike out Bradley looking to send the Yankee Stadium faithful home happy.
This is the 69th time that Pettitte and Rivera have combined for a win and a save. That’s the most of any duo since the save statistic was introduced.
As for the offense, Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli each hit their first home runs while Lyle Overbay added a two-run single. Eduardo Nunez went 2-for-3 with a run scored and is off to nice start (4-for-10) while filling in for Derek Jeter at shortstop.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.