And the timing of shortstop Marco Scutaro's throwing error on Tuesday night was rather imperfect, and it played a significant role in a 6-4 loss to the Yankees.
It looked like lefty reliever Hideki Okajima had navigated himself out of a jam in the eighth. With two on and two outs in a tie game, Derek Jeter hit a grounder to short, and it looked like the Red Sox were about to come charging back to the dugout. But Scutaro one-hopped his throw to first baseman Kevin Youkilis. The error kept the inning alive, putting Nick Johnson in position to give the Yankees the lead back on a bases-loaded walk.
Playing just his second game for the Red Sox, Scutaro proved to be accountable to the wave of media that surrounded his locker after the game.
"I just made a bad throw -- that's it. I don't really have an excuse," said Scutaro. "It's always hard when you make errors and it costs you the game. You just turn the page and come back tomorrow and win the series. You can't really do anything about it right now."
Youkilis wishes he could have bailed Scutaro out.
"It just hopped up quick," Youkilis said. "It just hit the top of my glove. I just didn't get it in the webbing. It's one of those plays where I blame myself. I thought I could have made it, but I got a bad bounce. It's one of those tough breaks you have. It definitely wasn't [the game]. One play doesn't flip the game. There's tons of stuff we could have done better. We could have scored more runs, we could have given up less runs. That play isn't how we lost the ballgame tonight."
Okajima still had a chance to get out of the inning with the tie intact. But the normally stalwart setup man fell behind 3-1 and then walked in the winning run to the always-patient Johnson.
"That was the last thing I wanted to do," Okajima said through an interpreter. "The result just turned out that way."
"It was just the one hitter where he kind of lost his command," said Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, who went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs. "Unfortunately, it wasn't the right time to lose his command with the bases loaded, but that was it."
For the Red Sox, it was just that kind of night.
Even still, they threatened to answer right back in their half of the eighth. Youkilis led off with a single and moved to second on an errant pickoff throw by Damaso Marte. David Ortiz flew to center, and on came Joba Chamberlain, who struck out Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew to snuff out that threat.
The Yankees, despite three errors, avenged their Opening Night loss to the Red Sox on Sunday by bouncing back in this one. The rubber match will be on Wednesday night at Fenway, when John Lackey makes his debut for Boston against Andy Pettitte.
This was a night in which neither starter was in top form. Boston's Jon Lester gave up five hits and four runs over five innings, walking three, striking out four and throwing 94 pitches. A.J. Burnett allowed seven hits and four runs (three earned) over five innings. He also finished with 94 pitches.
Lester had come out blazing, ending a 1-2-3 first by blowing a 97-mph fastball past Mark Teixeira.
|"You just never know when you're going to make an error. You really want to play perfect for the whole season, but you won't. You're going to have some errors, you're going to have some ups and downs. It was just an error."|
|-- Victor Martinez|
It was the Red Sox who jumped out first, with Jacoby Ellsbury providing a spark. The leadoff man led off the first with a bloop single. He then stole second and advanced to third on Jorge Posada's throwing error. Youkilis made it a 1-0 game by lofting a sacrifice fly to center.
A big swing by Martinez, resulting in a two-run homer into the Boston bullpen against Burnett, made it 3-1 Sox in the third.
"What a nice swing," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's just a good hitter."
The Yankees have plenty of those themselves.
And back the Bombers came in the fifth, loading the bases with nobody out for the dangerous Teixeira. The first baseman nearly hit into a 5-4-3 double play, but he was ruled safe at first and a run scored.
"[The umpire] made the call and it was a bang-bang play," said Youkilis. "I guess from the replay and stuff, guys said he was out and they said he was safe. It's a bang-bang call, but it didn't lose the game."
The dagger came next, as Alex Rodriguez belted an RBI double down the line in left, and it was once again a tie game.
"The 3-2 fastball to A-Rod, if he didn't swing at that pitch, it was a ball," said Martinez. "He did a good job. He put a good swing on the ball and got him. But I think [Lester] threw the ball well today."
Robinson Cano untied it with a sacrifice fly to center. Naturally, the Red Sox responded in their half of the fifth. Martinez once again got the big hit, an RBI double high off the Monster in left-center that made it a 4-4 game.
This time around, however, the Yankees had the last laugh.
"You just never know when you're going to make an error," said Martinez. "You really want to play perfect for the whole season, but you won't. You're going to have some errors, you're going to have some ups and downs. It was just an error."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.