The Red Sox rode a trio of early homers to a 9-4 victory over the New York Yankees Tuesday night, dropping their rivals a full five games back in the wild card race.
Watching the Red Sox tonight, fans saw not the 2014 team that is playing out a final month of meaningless games before watching the playoffs from home, but the 2014 team as it was supposed to be this season: a championship team re-energized by a fresh batch of players to replace departing free agents. It was Mookie Betts who scored the first run of the game in the top of the first, singling to left field, moving to second on a David Ortiz walk, and scoring when Yoenis Cespedes hit a double to the base of the wall in left field. Ortiz, too, would come in to score on a Mike Napoli sacrifice fly, leaving the Red Sox ahead 2-0 early.
Yankees starter Shane Greene managed to recover with a scoreless second inning, but in the third the Red Sox went right back to work. This time Cespedes was the one to start the attack, singling to left to set up the old core of 2013. Mike Napoli drew the walk to keep things moving, and Daniel Nava golfed an inside fastball into the stands in right for a three-run shot. Greene did manage to strike out the next batter in Will Middlebrooks, but would end up allowing a second homer in the inning, with Xander Bogaerts displaying his power by launching a fly ball that just seemed to hang in the air until there was no more field left.
It was an early 6-0 lead for the Red Sox, and one that surely should have been enough, but the top of the fourth brought even more offense for Boston in a solo homer from Mookie Betts, which was arguably the one thing the game was missing to that point for Red Sox fans. He even threw in a bit of highway robbery in the bottom of the inning, making a leaping catch at the wall to take extra bases away from Mark Teixeira.
It cannot be said to be a perfect performance from the Red Sox. Joe Kelly was fine, and frankly looked to be ready for his best start in a Red Sox uniform early in the game. But despite some excellent framing work from David Ross (whose efforts are likely to credit for Brett Gardner's fury over a strike three call leading to his ejection), Kelly could not keep it completely together, ultimately offering up a homer to Martin Prado in the third, another pair of runs in a sketchy fifth featuring not one, but two infield singles, and ending the night with 6.2 innings of three-run ball on five hits, four walks, and six strikeouts. Far from his worst work in a Red Sox uniform (and close to his best), but not quite the fantastic performance he seemed in line for early on in the night.
Worse than any slight disappointment from Kelly, however, was Koji Uehara struggling once more, surrendering a solo shot to Brian McCann to lead off the bottom of the ninth. But with the Sox having brought in two more runs in the top half, that cut their lead to 9-4, making it a small dark spot on an otherwise outstanding performance from the Red Sox.