Mendoza & Co. Lead Yankees Over Red Sox

For the second straight game, a Yankee starter struggled in the early innings versus the first place Red Sox. Only this time, the bullpen held on to give the Yanks the victory. With Boston chipping away at an early 3-0 Yankee lead, David Wells appeared to be losing control of his pitches, giving up two runs before loading the bases with two outs. In one of his best games of the season, Ramiro Mendoza came on to relieve Wells, retiring Shea Hillenbrand to get the Yanks out of the jam.

Mendoza then proceeded to retire the next 9 batters, and earned his second victory of the season.

The Yankees received their entire offensive output in the second inning, with Robin Ventura leading off with a single to right field, followed by a double by John Vander Wal, who missed a home run by a few feet. With runners on second and third, Shane Spencer ripped a double to left field, giving the Yanks an early two run lead. They received their final run in the inning with an RBI single from Alfonso Soriano, which scored Shane Spencer.

In the first inning, the Yankees had an opportunity to claim an early 1-0 lead, with Derek Jeter reaching third base on an infield single and two stolen bases, one on a throwing error. But Bernie Williams hit a sharp grounded to first basemen Jose Offerman, who threw a bullet to catcher Jason Varitek, and tagged out the Yankee shortstop on a close play at home that replays apparently showed Jeter to be safe.

Boston slowly chipped away at the Yankee three run lead, with a single by Ray Sanchez that scored Varitek and Trot Nixon, and with Trot Nixon grounding into a double play which scored Offerman in the fourth. In that inning, Wells walked three batters, something he had not done all season, and did not look like he was fully ready to go following his back injury. The tight strike zone of home plate umpire Jim Reynolds also irked Wells, who got into a verbal argument with him early on, which almost led to his ejection from the game.

Boston starter Derrick Lowe also lost his control early, as he needed 48 pitches to get through the first two innings. However Lowe settled down after struggling in the first two innings, retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.

The Yankee bullpen relieved Wells with Mendoza getting into a groove and Boston hitters unable to adjust to his sinker and fastball. Nomar Garciapara was the only Sox hitter who was able to get a hit off of Mendoza. Mike Stanton relieved Mendoza, getting the first two outs of the eighth inning, and Mariano Rivera closed out the game for the Yankees retiring the final four batters.

The series resumes Sunday night on ESPN, with Mike Mussina (6-2, 4.15 ERA) facing off against Darren Oliver (4-3, 4.20).

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