You won’t see many innings that are quite the combination of ugly and productive that the first was for the Red Sox. Dustin Pedroia singled, Dustin Pedroia was thrown out trying to take second. David Ortiz singled, David Ortiz was thrown out trying to take second. Mookie Betts singled, Mookie Betts was thrown out trying to steal. Well, the last one changed, but for a brief moment it seemed like the Sox had managed to run into three outs at second base...and somehow score a run in the process thanks to Xander Bogaerts getting hit by a pitch in the middle of it all. But with replay showing that Betts had beat the tag, the frame continued, allowing Hanley Ramirez to drive Betts in with a fourth hit, and Travis Shaw to record at least one out the usual way.
Somehow, Clay Buchholz managed to hold that lead for the next four innings despite really not looking all that great. He pitched around major trouble in the second after putting two men in scoring position with one out, and was letting men on base via walks and hit batters in the other innings. But by hook or by crook, Buchholz was through four scoreless.
The fifth? The fifth was different. This time, after giving up a couple leadoff singles to get in trouble, Buchholz couldn’t quite get that last out, with New York’s rising star Gary Sanchez doubling off the Monster with two down to let the Yankees score a pair. An inning earlier, it would’ve tied the game. But before Buchholz stumbled, Hanley Ramirez had given Fenway Park an encore performance of the ninth inning from Thursday (if not quite as dramatic), crushing a 2-1 fastball down the pipe to about the same spot as he hit his walkoff shot in center.
That gave the Sox the extra bit of padding to keep that lead after the top of the fifth, and that was as close as they’d let the Yankees get to a win. Facing off against the New York bullpen to start the sixth, the heart of Boston’s order would load the bases with no outs. Travis Shaw could onl produce a sacrifice fly to bring home one run, and Chris Young would watch strike three, but Sandy Leon looped a ball into no man’s land down the left field line to bring home another run before Hanley was thrown out trying to score on a passed ball.
A 5-2 lead isn’t bad, but the Sox had just shown how vulnerable they can be, so they went right back to work in the seventh, with Jackie Bradley Jr. ambushing a first-pitch changeup to start the inning with a rocket solo shot to right. The Sox would again set themselves up for another big frame behind him, with Pedroia and Bogaerts getting into scoring position, and the Yankees choosing to intentionally walk David Ortiz to pitch to Mookie Betts. It proved to be the right choice, as Betts failed to make them play, only bringing a run in by grounding into a double play.
Still, it was 7-2, and those extra runs proved helpful when Fernando Abad surrendered a two-run homer to Billy Butler in the ninth. The one great failing of this game was Abad letting the Yankees get close enough (with the tying run on deck) to bring Craig Kimbrel into the game. But Kimbrel did the job Abad couldn’t, striking out Jacoby Ellsbury and Gary Sanchez back-to-back to put a bow on this one.
The Rays choked away a lead late and finished their game by having the tying run thrown out at the plate, so the Sox won’t gain a game on them. And with Toronto in Los Angeles, it at least seems unlikely they’ll gain any ground on any team but an increasingly hopeless Yankees squad. But at this point, prolonging the status quo for another day is big in its own right. The Sox don’t need to gain any ground, just maintain the distance. So far, so good against New York.