His team dominated by the New York Yankees all season, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora acknowledged before the clubs played Friday night that sometimes the best way to contend with such a powerhouse is to be creative.
Creative as in using seven pitchers, each of whom weren't on the team's Opening Day roster, to quiet one of the best offenses in baseball? Maybe that isn't exactly how Cora drew it up, but it worked as the host Red Sox came away with a 6-1 victory in the opener of a four-game series between the rivals.
"Right now, this is the way we have to go," Cora told reporters. "We got guys that can get people out, we just have to make sure we find the right matchup for them to go and attack guys."
Whether it was a fluke won't take long to find out, with Boston again planning a bullpen game for Saturday's tilt. Right-hander Travis Lakins (0-1, 4.70 ERA) will kick things off for the Red Sox opposite a traditional Yankees starter, lefty J.A. Happ (11-8, 5.34).
With David Price scratched from his scheduled start Friday following a setback with his ailing wrist, the Red Sox instead turned to Jhoulys Chacin, who hadn't pitched in a game since July 24, when he was still with the Milwaukee Brewers. Chacin threw two perfect innings and set the tone for the six relievers to follow him -- the collective group holding the Yankees to one run on a Brett Gardner homer and just three hits total.
"It's a little different," Gardner said of seeing so many different pitchers. "But September baseball (expanded rosters), unfortunately. We've got three more weeks of that. But that's part of the game. It doesn't matter who you're facing, you want to put good at-bats together. Hopefully, we saved some for tomorrow."
Lakins will look to repeat the feat in his first major league start. The rookie has made 10 appearances out of the bullpen this season, his latest coming on Sunday, and will face New York for the first time in his career.
Happ, meanwhile, is coming off one of his best starts of the season and has already beat Boston twice in three tries this year. The southpaw gave up just one hit over six shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, though he walked four. He also struck out five and received a no-decision.
Happ gave up four runs over 5 2/3 innings in beating Boston on Aug. 4 and had held the Red Sox to one run over five innings in their previous meeting May 31. For his career, the 36-year-old is 10-4 with a 3.14 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) against the Red Sox.
Friday's victory was only Boston's fifth in 16 meetings with New York this season. The Red Sox have won six of their last nine as they try to emerge from the hole they dug themselves in the American League wild-card hunt.
"We can get on a run," Cora told reporters before Friday's game. "Although you guys don't believe me, but I feel that way. I told the guys today, 'Let's do what we have to do this weekend. We've got to win the series.'"
The Yankees' loss was just their third in their last 11 contests, and they still hold an 8 1/2-game lead in the AL East standings.
--Field Level Media
Red Sox turning to another opener vs. Yankees
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