NEW YORK — Boston Red Sox fans have watched the scene before. But this time they enjoyed it thoroughly.
Kevin Youkilis held a baseball bat to his head, frustrated after striking out.
No ill will meant for Youkilis, the former Boston infielder, but when Andrew Bailey struck him out in the seventh inning, it was a key moment in the Red Sox 8-2 win over the New York Yankees.
And maybe a key sign of good things to come for Boston.
After five innings Monday, Red Sox starter Jon Lester handed over a 4-2 lead to the Boston bullpen.
Five pitchers followed with one-hit scoreless relief. The Red Sox piled on in the end, with a run in the seventh and three in the ninth.
Lester got the win and C.C. Sabathia the loss. Sabathia also lasted only five innings.
Jacoby Ellsbury went 3 for 6 with two RBI. New right fielder Shane Victorino knocked in three runs. And Dustin Pedroia (2 for 6) had an RBI.
The rookies at the bottom of the order, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Jose Iglesias, went a combined 3 for 7 with three walks, two RBI and three runs.
“A lot of quality at-bats up and down the lineup,” Farrell said.
But Farrell’s initial praise was heaped on his bullpen.
“We felt coming into spring training it had a chance to be one of the strengths of our club,” Farrell said. “As each guy came to the mound, they demonstrated good stuff, they threw strikes.”
In the past two years, the Red Sox got off to stumbling starts, in part because of bullpen implosions. But not this year.
“It’s nice to be on top, 1-0, instead of going through the whole road trip without a win again,” Lester said. “We’re just trying to get on a roll and set the tone early.”
When Lester’s pitch count went to 96 pitches after five innings – due to a 36-pitch fourth – the bullpen got busy and skeptical Sox fans cringed.
But new reliever Koji Uehara needed only five pitches (all strikes) to get three flyouts in the sixth.
Andrew Miller walked his first two batters, but then struck out Eduardo Nunez (98 mph fastball) and Robinson Cano (97 mph).
“Andrew Miller has been able to make some of those in-game adjustments as he’s transformed into a very good left-handed reliever,” Farrell said.
Farrell wanted to use Bailey in the eighth, but summoned him to face Youkilis in the seventh.
“It was the key at-bat of the game,” Farrell said.
Bailey got ahead 1-2 and then struck Youkilis out, swinging at a high fastball.
“He’s a guy who loves that situation. It was a great match-up,” Bailey said. “Just tried to get ahead and extend (the strike zone) from there.”
Farrell did not want Bailey pitching a second inning so he brought in Junichi Tazawa in the eighth.
“Fortunately we got some depth there,” Farrell said. “Ideally it was set up for Bailey to pitch the eighth. But the way Taz has emerged, we had the confidence to go to him.”
Tazawa allowed a single but then got Ichiro Suzuki to hit into a double play.
With Boston’s ninth-inning outburst, it was no longer a save situation for Joel Hanrahan, but he retired the Yankees in order.
Boston had taken the lead for good with four runs in the second. Sabathia loaded the bases on a single and two walks. RBI singles by Iglesias, Victorino (two) and Pedroia followed.
The Yankees were playing without Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, all on the disabled list, but New York Manager Joe Girardi would not make excuses.
“There may be different faces in the clubhouse, but the expectation is to win,” Girardi said.
Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: