NY Daily News & NY Post back covers for Monday, May 16, 2011

When the 2011 MLB season got underway, no one in their right mind thought the Boston Red Sox would have a .500 record on May 16th. With all of the expectations surrounding this team, .500 talk should have been a thing of early April with it in the rearview mirror in May.

But here we are on this dreary day (at least in Connecticut) celebrating the fact that the Red Sox have made it to .500. And given that it came against the New York Yankees, it makes it a little bit sweeter.

The Red Sox came into the series with the Yanks at 17-20 but after an uncharacteristic Jon Lester start on Sunday night, the Red Sox emerged with a 7-5 win and better yet, a sweep of the Yanks to get to .500. It was the first sweep of the Yankees in New York by the Red Sox since 2004. And we all remember what happened then.

Lester struggled early on with his command and needed 50 pitches to get through the first two innings. At that point, the Yankees were enjoying a 4-1 lead after Andruw Jones and Curtis Granderson had made Lester pay when he hung cutters to them. And while he didn’t seem all that comfortable going forward, he was able to settle down and throw 37 pitches over the course of the next three innings.

He would need 22 more pitches in his final inning of work but at the end of the nine inning game, he emerged with his fifth win of the season. That win also gave him the best winning percentage all-time at .718 (66-26) having 50 or more decisions.

The offense picked him up to help him to that mark.

Trailing 4-1 in the third, Kevin Youkilis mashed a 3-run homer off of Freddy Garcia to get the Red Sox back into the game. Two innings later, the red-hot David Ortiz hit a solo home run to put the Red Sox up for good at 5-4. They would get another run when Alex Rodriguez pulled a Bill Buckner. After the Yanks got a run back off of Alfredo Aceves, Jarrod Saltalamacchia added his first home run of the season to provide the final margin.

For Salty, it was his first home run of the season. It was also the first home run of the season for the much maligned Red Sox catchers. Only two teams in MLB didn’t have a home run from their catchers before last night’s game, the Red Sox and the Twins. Now it’s just the struggling Twins in that department.

Sure it hasn’t been fun at times watching the Red Sox. And while it might not have been fun on early on last night, it was great to see the Red Sox battle back. It’s something we’ve come to expect from them under Terry Francona as they never seem to lose their fight.

I’m sure we all thought when they fell behind last night, it was another case of here we go again. They get so close to the .500 mark only to lose a few games. But now they’ve bucked that trend and hopefully it’s only upward from here.

We’ll be back later with tonight’s lineups, batter/pitcher matchups and links from the day. But for now, enjoy the overnight links by clicking on the read more button below if you’re on the home page.

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Three of a kind: Red Sox rotation shows striking early returns [Alex Speier – WEEI.com]

Sox get even with sweep [Boston Globe]

Disorder has been avoided [Boston Globe]

Posada steps up, delivers — an apology [Boston Globe]

Finally, team hits its mark [Boston Globe]

Sweep of Yankees puts Red Sox at .500 [Boston Herald]

Sympathe-Tek [Boston Herald]

Time not on Yanks’ side [Boston Herald]

Carl Crawford a pro to the 8th degree [Boston Herald]

It’s a 122-game season [Boston Herald]

Battling Jon Lester does enough to earn win [Boston Herald]

How a chat with David Ortiz boosted Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s confidence [Clubhouse Insider]

Red Sox sweep Yanks with 7-5 win, get to .500 [CSNNE.com]

Varitek weighs in on Posada drama in New York [CSNNE.com]

It’s a start for the Sox [CSNNE.com]

Notes: Lester is good enough for Sox to win [CSNNE.com]

Sox reach .500: ‘We’re making strides’ [ESPN Boston]

Saltalamacchia HR a path less taken [ESPN Boston]

Video: SNB crew reviews the Sox sweep [ESPN Boston]

Video: Cafardo on Red Sox’ victory [Extra Bases]

Some Red Sox have dealt with wounds to their own pride [Full Count]

Closing Time: Red Sox finally at .500 thanks to sweep of Yankees [Full Count]

Pick your poison: Youkilis, Ortiz punish Yanks for pitching around Gonzalez [Full Count]

Red Sox Defeat Yankees 7-5 To Complete Sweep, Reach .500 [Hartford Courant]

Dependable Bard Likes Being Busy Out Of Bullpen [Hartford Courant]

Red Sox Know From Experience the Difficulty of Jorge Posada Situation [NESN.com]

Which Red Sox Stat Surprises You Most This Season? [NESN.com]

Red Sox Make Progress With Sweep in New York, But Upcoming Week Crucial to 2011 Season [NESN.com]

Sweep, sweep, sweep! [Nuggetpalooza]

“E” in ESPN stands for “excessive” [Projo Sox Blog]

Sweep lifts Boston to .500 [Providence Journal]

Fading icon Posada has to swallow his pride [Providence Journal]

Red Sox journal: Off-speed pitches make Bard more effective [Providence Journal]

Wheeler faring well in rehab outings [RedSox.com]

Hill pitches with conviction against righties [RedSox.com]

Coming out of New York, the Red Sox have a new feel [Tony Massarotti – Boston Globe]

For more slices of Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, CSNNEESPN Boston, NESN, Providence Journal, RedSox.com and WEEI websites.

And if you must check out the enemy news, head over to the New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Times and The Journal News websites. You can also check out our Bloguin brother, NYY Stadium Insider.