Derek Jeter had an infield single in two plate appearances on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Why You Should Have Cared About Saturday's Red Sox Game: A Derek Jeter sighting; Joe Kelly's milestone; Garin Cecchini, Rusney Castillo look at home

September 27, 2014 - 12:13 pm
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The main event is Derek Jeter. All else represents a sideshow in the final weekend of the season, albeit a sideshow of intriguing relevance. Jeter, in the lineup as the designated hitter, batted twice on Saturday before being pulled, punching out on a 99 mph fastball from Red Sox starter Joe Kelly and then beating out a chopper just to the left of second base for an infield hit, his 164th career safety at Fenway Park. The sight of Jeter pouring everything he had into a sprint from home to first represented a fitting emblem of the player, who now has just one remaining game in his career. While many who were in attendance will take one of their last opportunities to see Jeter on the field as their lasting memory of the game, there were a number of elements beyond the retiring Yankees shortstop that held more lasting significance for the Red Sox in a 10-4 blowout win over the Yankees. Among them: -- Arguably the most significant development was the image of a thoroughly pounded Masahiro Tanaka exiting the field after pitching a season-low 1 2/3 innings and yielding a season-high seven runs (five earned) on seven hits while throwing just 25 of 50 pitches for strikes. As the Yankees try to make a decision about whether he's healthy enough to avoid Tommy John surgery, and thus whether he'll be ready to pitch in 2015, Saturday's struggle represented a billowing red flag for the pitcher's status entering next year, and hence the state of the Yankees rotation for next season. -- Tanaka's counterpart, Joe Kelly, concluded his promising first two months with the Red Sox by delivering arguably his best start with the Sox. He featured a 99 mph fastball in his first inning of work, and was still working at that velocity in the seventh. He also showed a changeup that elicited swings and misses from left-handed hitters while once again getting plenty of outs (eight) on the ground. The net result was dominance through seven innings -- in which Kelly allowed one run on five hits -- before an eighth-inning falter in which he yielded three additional runs on four straight singles, a stretch aided by a couple of groundballs that found holes. His 7 1/3 innings represented a career high. Overall, the body of work by Kelly was impressive enough to provide the Sox with a sense of comfort with the idea of having him in the 2015 rotation. In 10 starts following his trade from the Cardinals to the Sox, Kelly went 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA. -- Rusney Castillo continues to impress in his initial exposure to the big leagues. He reached base in all four plate appearances on Saturday, going 3-for-3 with three singles, a walk and stealing his third base in as many chances. Since incorporating a leg kick prior to Thursday's game, he's 7-for-10 with two homers, a double and a walk. Saturday marked his first career three-hit game. -- Garin Cecchini lined a pair of opposite-field doubles off the Green Monster and once again made some strong defensive plays at third base, most notably one in which he dove to his left, recovered and made an accurate throw to first to clip Austin Romine at first base. He doesn't show the consistent polish of a major league everyday third baseman (his throws and footwork are still inconsistent), but he's also looked like someone for whom it would be premature to dismiss such a possibility. Meanwhile, in a limited offensive exposure to the big leagues, Cecchini has held his own, driving the ball from line to line, his ability to drive the ball to left field particularly noteworthy given the possibility that such an approach could play particularly well at Fenway Park. -- Daniel Nava is hitting like someone who should have a role on the 2015 Red Sox, particularly given the team's need for greater lineup balance. He reached in his first four plate appearances against righties, going 3-for-4 and getting hit by a pitch. For the year, he is now hitting .296 with a .777 OPS against right-handed pitchers. -- Yoenis Cespedes drove in a pair of runs to reach 100 RBIs for the year, the first time he's arrived at the milestone. Though hitting .262 with a .756 OPS on the year, he has marks of .311 and .883 with runners in scoring position. -- Rubby De La Rosa, in his first relief appearance of the year, recorded four of his five outs by strikeout.

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