Game 156: Sweep, sweep victory

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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.

Leftovers

  • 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.
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13 Comments

  1. Frank

    Baseball is a helluva drug…

  2. Steven

    Great recap, Ana! Feels like forever since NYY played that well, yet the winning streak was just a month ago.

  3. dasit

    in the last three seasons, the yankees and red sox have played a total of 23 games in august and september. the yankees are 21-2 in those games

    • Jason

      Are the minor league seasons over? Haven’t seen an update in a while and it occured to me that they might be dond

  4. Milt Mankoff

    I’ve been a fan since 1953 and can’t recall an “inning” with more bizarre miscues than the one in which LeMahieu and Gallo dropped fly balls I could probably catch now and then the ump blew the hand transfer call on Judge.

    We saw the “ball transfer” in slo-mo, but it’s possible in real time that neither the ump, catcher or pitcher perceived what was going on. No one protested, which is why perhaps the principals missed it.

    I was upset that Holmes was removed, but Fangraphs does show he has a lot of trouble with lefties, so my initial anger at Boone might have been misplaced.

    I do hope Boone had someone warming up in case Chapman had a meltdown. He has often reacted too slowly to what seems to be unfolding.

    • dasit

      no way west could see the ball transfer from his angle behind the catcher. not a reviewable call but i’m surprised cora didn’t at least ask west to check with the first base ump

  5. Brian

    Was listening to the game, and it felt like Cora and Boone were trying to out-galaxy-brain each other in the top of the 7th. Holmes struck out the side in the previous inning and was due to come out again, and sounded from the radio broadcast to be electric. You probably could have gotten a couple more outs out of him. But then Cora made a sub, then Joely comes in, then Cora makes ANOTHER sub. Just stick with the good player who is playing good tonight instead of being super cute with your matchup binder!

    • Tim

      Verdugo was due up second in the inning, and Holmes wasn’t going to be pitching to him no matter what in that spot (nor should he). So, if you’re Boone your options are leave in Holmes to pitch to Travis Shaw, a HR hitter lefty in a one run game, or bring in Joely (who dominates lefties) to pitch to Shaw and force Cora to use a no-power guy in Iglesias and burn a power option off the bench in Shaw for nothing. Joely is not good against righties, but Iglesias is NOT a good hitter. I think perhaps the option that would have been the smartest in that spot would have been Peralta instead of Rodriguez – this way, you get the left-left match-up or you burn Shaw anyway, and you’ve got a pitcher in the game that is very effective against both lefties and righties.

      • Travis Shaw is a home run hitter?

        He has 6 in 180 ABs this year, not exactly contending for MVP with a .191 BA.

        It was a ridiculous pitching change, Holmes was absolutely dealing and Fenway isn’t exactly the easiest park to hit one out in right field.

        Just a terrible decision by Boone-Verdugo isn’t a HR hitter either and the top of the Sox’ batting order has right handed hitters far more dangerous than anyone at the bottom of the order, having a lefty who is challenged to get right handed batters out just makes no sense.

        I’m not a Boone hater (I think the Yankees can do much better, though) but a bad decision is a bad decision, period.

        • You may not be a Boone hater, but you very succinctly spelled out why there are so many of us.

          • Facts are facts, period.

            I’ve played (through college) and watched baseball my whole life (I’m 74) and am disgusted with the way decisions are made during games. The way games are managed today there won’t be any starting pitching in 10 years because pitchers will never be allowed to learn how to go deep in games. It diminishes both the player and the game, Arod even said this last night.

  6. Tim

    It’s right about now that we should all remember and realize that, coming into this season, the Yankees were the HEAVY favorite to win the AL East and represent the AL in the World Series. This team, which has been reinforced with the power lefties and with arms in the bullpen that are absolutely filthy, is right now the best team in the AL. NOBODY wants to face this team in the playoffs. NOBODY. Especially in a best-of-seven where your depth is severely tested. Statistically, the Yankee pitching staff is the best in the AL. Add that to this ferocious line-up and you’ve got a very scary team in the Bronx.

    Of course, there is no guarantee that they’ll even get to the dance. The last six games will be tough, especially the next three. And a one game playoff is really a coin flip, even with Gerrit Cole as your starter. But, the Yankees are hitting there stride at the right time. So let’s keep it rollin’.

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