The Yankees really, really tried to give this one away, but a late-inning rally headlined by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton led the Bombers to a 6-3 win and a dramatic sweep of the Boston Red Sox. This weekend was everything it needed to be, and the Yankees are now a full game up on the top wild card spot going into another big series against the Toronto Blue Jays. To the takeaways:
Montgomery good enough. While certainly not the story of tonight’s ballgame, Jordan Montgomery, as he tends to do in almost every start, was good enough to keep the Yankees in the game and give the offense a chance to get the job done. This was one of his shortest starts of the season at only 71 pitches over 5 innings, and it never really looked easy. He only wound up giving up one run on some fourth inning small ball — Rafael Devers opened the inning with a single, stole second base, took third on a Xander Bogaerts single, and scored on a JD Martinez sac fly — but only threw one 1-2-3 inning, and was saved from further damage by a few great defensive plays by DJ LeMahieu, including a double play in a fifth inning in which Montgomery gave up three hits.
His final line (5 innings, 7 hits, one run, no walks, 4 Ks) doesn’t quite illustrate his struggle with command (his fastball was all over the place, as illustrated below) and the number of very hard-hit balls he surrendered (there were five balls off him hit at over 100 mph, nine over 95 mph). He certainly got a bit lucky today, but did his job and kept damage to a minimum against a really solid offense.
The defense tries to give it up. The Yankees took a 2-1 lead into the 7th inning after loading the bases with no outs in the fifth and scoring on a Gio Urshela double play ball and a two-out opposite field single from LeMahieu, but overall both offenses were pretty dormant for the first two-thirds of this game.
In the bottom of the 7th, however, Joely Rodriguez came on to pitch and immediately ran into trouble, giving up a single to Jose Iglesias, a bunt single to Alex Verdugo, and throwing a wild pitch to move runners to second and third with nobody out. Christian Vazquez hit a sac fly to tie the game before Chad Green replaced Rodriguez and struck out Enrique Hernandez for the second out.
Green, to his credit, did everything he could to get pinch-hitter Kyle Schwarber out with no further drama, but the Yankees defense decided to give the Red Sox a hand; LeMahieu, after making a few stellar plays earlier in the game, dropped an easy foul-ground popup to give Schwarber new life, and then the normally sure-handed Joey Gallo dropped a can-of-corn popup in left field. Verdugo scored before Gallo was able to throw out Schwarber trying to stretch his luck at second, and the Yankees were left looking at a very frustrating 3-2 deficit heading into the 8th.
The offense wakes up. The 8th inning did not get off to a particularly auspicious start for the Yankees. After Urshela started the inning with a walk, Tyler Wade pinch ran and tried to steal second with LeMahieu at the plate; he was unsuccessful, as it seemed like he got distracted by something mid-steal, aborted his attempt just before he should have slid and went into second standing up. LeMahieu followed that bizarre caught stealing with a walk, and Anthony Rizzo then ripped a 115.2 mph double into the corner to put runners on second and third with one out.
Aaron Judge then worked an eight pitch at bat in which he caught two huge breaks – Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec missed a catchable popup in foul ground, and home plate umpire Joe West missed what should have been a swinging third strike, calling it a foul ball even though it appeared that catcher Vazquez dropped the ball on the transfer and not on contact.
Fortunately for the Yankees, that play falls under the “balls and strikes” category and is not reviewable, so Judge was able to look at another pitch and take it deep to center field for a two-run double. The 118.4 mph line drive put the Yankees on top 4-3, and set the stage for Giancarlo Stanton’s encore performance. After taking a called strike, Stanton smashed a two-run home run over the Green Monster, pretty much in the exact spot he hit his game-winning grand slam last night, dramatically capping the scoring by giving the Yankees a 6-3 lead. His home run clocked in at 116.4 mph, giving the Yankees three consecutive hits with exit velocity over 115. I’m not sure if that’s a record, but it seems pretty good.
Big G’s Big Weekend. Stanton’s contribution to the Yankees’ sweep can’t be overstated, as he hit a home run in each of the weekend’s three games and totaled 10 RBI. According to ESPN, he is only the second Yankee in history to reach the 10 RBI mark in a three-game set against the Red Sox – the first was Mickey Mantle.
- Clay Holmes was excellent in relief when he came on to pitch the 6th inning, striking out the side on 11 pitches. In the course of those 11 pitches, he induced eight swings and five whiffs. Holmes is certainly making a play to be one of Aaron Boone’s trusted relievers as the team pushes towards the playoffs.
- Rizzo’s double in the 8th inning was the first extra base hit of the game for either team.
- The game was delayed in the top of the 4th as flashing fire alarm lights and sirens went off around Fenway Park. I’ve been watching baseball for over 20 years, and this might have been the first fire alarm delay I’ve seen.