It's just that for this rare exception, the plan backfired horribly. The exit of Karstens created an opening for Kei Igawa, who had been on temporary hiatus from the rotation. Igawa came up huge for the Yankees, holding the Sox to six hits over six-plus shutout innings.
For the Yankees, the end of their seven-game losing streak was secure once Mariano Rivera nailed down his first save of the season.
It was the first time the Red Sox have lost to the Yankees in five meetings this season.
"It seemed like everything was going wrong for them from the first pitch, and then Igawa pitched a great game for them," said Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. "[I] kind of wished maybe Karstens stayed in the game. It might have been different for us. [You] got to give them credit. [Igawa] pitched a good game."
Not all the Red Sox were in such a cap-tipping frame of mind.
"He was all right, nothing special," said Sox slugger David Ortiz. "A lot of hittable pitches. We were just not hitting them."
And that has become an all too familiar refrain for Tim Wakefield. The knuckleballer certainly didn't have his best stuff, walking six and throwing 118 pitches over 5 1/3 innings. But for whatever the reason, the Sox seem to have the bulk of their offensive woes when Wakefield pitches.
In Wakefield's 14 losses dating back to the beginning of the 2006 season, the Red Sox have scored a total of nine runs during the time he's been in the game.
"I can't control that side of it," said Wakefield. "The only thing I can control is to get outs. They have a great lineup out there. Unfortunately, it was runners on base the whole day."
In what turned out to be the biggest hit of the game, Jorge Posada roped a two-run homer into the upper deck in right to make it 2-0 Yankees in the bottom of the fourth.
"The pitch to Posada that he hit out, I'm surprised he kept it fair," said Wakefield. "I reviewed it on tape, it was so far inside. Dougie [Mirabelli] was diving for it, almost behind him. It's one of those things where you just have to tip your cap to him. He was able to pull his hands in, keep it fair and it cost us the game."
There were other contributing factors. Lowell, a defensive stopper, is in the throes of a rare slump with his trusty glove. He committed two errors to give him eight for the season after making six in all of 2006.
"I'm just disappointed, because those are plays that I make," said Lowell. "I could have added 15, 20 pitches to Wake's outing. You never know what might have happened. Maybe Posada doesn't come up in that situation. That's the part where the game changes and that's what frustrates me."
The picture of frustration on this day was Coco Crisp. With the Sox putting together a furious rally in the eighth to slice the lead to 3-1, Crisp stepped up against Kyle Farnsworth with runners on first and second and two outs. He was rung up on a heater that looked to be outside and Crisp lost it, first firing his helmet and then his bat in the vicinity of home plate. Umpire Bruce Froemming immediately ejected Crisp.
"What I said loudly was that it was outside," said Crisp. "I think what mainly got me tossed out was the throwing of the equipment. It's definitely tough. You're up there battling in crucial situations, the heat of the moment. You try to control it as much as you can. Sometimes you get a little uncontrollable."
There were chances for the Sox against Farnsworth before that at-bat. Manny Ramirez was looking for a fastball and got frozen by a curve for a strikeout with first and second and nobody out. J.D. Drew grounded out to first. Lowell's bloop single to right was the only thing that prevented the Sox from being shut out.
"We needed to get a big hit," manager Terry Francona said. "Because we kept them at bay, we had a lot of chances. We hung in there. We couldn't get much going."