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New York Yankees knuckle under against Boston Red Sox's Steven Wright

By
Larry Fleisher, The Sports Xchange
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Steven Wright. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Steven Wright. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK -- During spring training, Steven Wright was not assured of a spot in the Boston Red Sox' starting staff.

Based on the early results, Wright is not going to be departing the rotation anytime soon.

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Wright confounded the New York Yankees with his knuckleball and came within an out of his first career shutout as he fired a three-hitter during a 5-1 victory Sunday.

"He was in total control from the start to the finish," Boston manager John Farrell said. "On a night where the conditions were ideal, where there was minimal wind, he was in the strike zone a lot with a pretty active and violent knuckleball at times."

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Wright said, "It's fun. As long as I can get an opportunity to pitch, I'm going to enjoy every minute of it and go out and attack the zone."

The only thing to go wrong for the right-hander was the 2-1 pitch he threw to Brett Gardner that landed in the right field seats in the ninth inning. The home run prevented Wright from becoming the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout in New York since Jon Lester on July 3, 2008.

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A few pitches later, Wright finished off his first career complete game by striking out pinch hitter Ronald Torreyes. Wright became the first Boston pitcher to allow three hits or fewer in a complete game since Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez struck out 17 in a one-hitter in 1999.

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"It's nice," Wright said. "For me, I don't really worry about shutouts. I worry about trying to keep the team in the game, but those guys (such as Lester and Martinez) are all great pitchers, so it's nice to be part of those conversations. Those guys have been doing it for years. I've done it for six starts."

Wright (3-3) faced two batters more than the minimum, and the Yankees had only one runner get past second base before the Gardner homer. It occurred when Starlin Castro doubled off the right field wall in the seventh and reached third before getting thrown at home plate for the second out of the inning.

"I felt like he could do whatever he wanted with the ball," New York catcher Brian McCann said of Wright.

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McCann had New York's first hit in the first inning, and then Wright allowed one other runner until the seventh. After walking Dustin Ackley in the second, Wright ended the inning by getting Aaron Hicks on a double play, and he retired the next 12 hitters.

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"In a word, he's been pretty dependable," Farrell said. "You have a pretty good sense of what he's going to give you each time he walks to the mound, and tonight was by far ... as good as he's pitched. This one, (he) was in complete control tonight."

Wright worked quickly and efficiently. He completed six innings before the game reached the two-hour mark and finished off his 101-pitch performance in two hours, 27 minutes.

"I think his pitching is speaking loud and clear," Farrell said.

Wright did not have to worry about pitching with a lead either

The Red Sox jumped on top 2-0 after 10 pitches from Luis Severino (0-5) when Dustin Pedroia hit a full count fastball into the right field seats.

David Ortiz homered in consecutive at-bats off Severino, driving a 1-2 fastball into the right field seats with one out in the fourth and sending a 1-0 fastball into the right field seats to start the seventh.

"I can still hit the ball and do what I do, and I'm going to continue playing the game," Ortiz said. "We're off to a good start as a team, and that's all that matters."

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The first home run gave him 453 with the Boston, surpassing Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski for sole possession of second place on the franchise's all-time list. The second homer gave him 51 career multi-homer games and 512 long balls for his career, moving Ortiz past Hall of Famer Mel Ott and into a tie with Eddie Mathews and Ernie Banks for 22nd on the all-time list.

"He's in such a good groove," Farrell said. "So many balls are squared up, hit hard. He's having fun."

Xander Bogaerts added a solo shot in the eighth for the Red Sox, who won for the 10th time in 14 games.

Severino allowed four runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. He tied a career high with nine strikeouts but also gave up a career-high three home runs. Severino has allowed three homers to Ortiz in the five times he has faced him."

NOTES: CF Jacoby Ellsbury (strained right hip) missed his second consecutive game, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he is unlikely to play Monday. ... Boston LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right patellar subluxation) allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings Sunday during his third rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket. Rodriguez will meet with manager John Farrell on Monday, and it is possible his next start could be in the majors. ... Boston RHP Joe Kelly (right shoulder impingement) will make his second rehab start for Pawtucket on Wednesday. His pitch count will be increased to 80-85. ... Yankees LHP Aroldis Chapman held a 13-minute press conference before the game as his 30-game suspension for domestic violence ended Sunday. Chapman said through an interpreter: "I'm super excited and happy that the manager has given me the honor of being the closer."

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