The Red Sox have struggled against the Yankees all year long, particularly on offense. After Friday’s crushing loss, they were looking to get back to their winning ways and create further separation atop the American League East. Unfortunately, they were going to have to do it against Luis Severino, one of the more talented pitchers in the American League and a guy that has dominated them this season. Fortunately, Andrew Benintendi was up for the task as he put together one of the best individual games of the season. Led by the rookie outfielder, Boston’s offense handed New York’s ace his worst start of the year. The Red Sox also got yet another solid performance out of Drew Pomeranz, though that was slightly overshadowed by the Benintendi show.
There were clearly a lot of positives with this game, but really it was all about Benintendi. The rookie outfielder came through with a couple of huge swings when his team desperately needed them. The first came in the third inning with two on and the score tied at two. The Red Sox had just tied the game on a Mookie Betts two-RBI single, but it felt like that could be all they were going to get against Severino, who looked pretty good up to that point. Benintendi had other ideas as he took a fastball down and in and ripped it over the fence in right-center field. Just like that, the Red Sox had a 5-2 lead.
The next big fly broke the game open. The Yankees had just scored a run in the bottom half of the fourth, pulling within two. In the top half of the fifth, Eduardo Nuñez and Betts started with back-to-back hits to put two runners in scoring position for Benintendi. The rookie needed to at least get the ball in the air, but he did more than that. This time he got a hanging slider and the lefty crushed it. This one was another ball to right-center field, though a bit deeper than the first, and it gave Boston a commanding 8-3 lead.
Benintendi has been on fire for the Red Sox since his two-game benching at the start of the month. In fact, his hot run has coincided with a big slump from Aaron Judge, leading some to question whether or not the Rookie of the Year race will actually be a race. I still say no, but that it’s even a conversation is amazing. More importantly, Benintendi has been carrying the offense of late. The Red Sox lineup doesn’t have a true, David Ortiz-like superstar to carry the group on a nightly basis, so they need one or two guys to carry them through stretches. Nuñez and Rafael Devers had their stretch, now it’s Benintendi’s turn. Today’s game marked the first time in Red Sox history a rookie has had two six-RBI games and made him the youngest player in team history to post six RBI in a game against the Yankees. Seems pretty good.
While Benintendi was clearly the star of the show, the rest of the offense did a good job as well. It seemed like it was going to be a tough day for the lineup considering Severino’s talent and the fact that he’s been dominating pretty much everyone all year long. Instead, they handed him his worst outing of the year in a big statement game for the unit. It was a group effort, but Betts and Mitch Moreland had a couple hits each and Devers broke out of a mini slump with a big double of his own.
On the mound, Pomeranz’ performance was overshadowed by his offense — a nice change of pace for this Red Sox team — but was very solid in its own right. It didn’t get off to the best of starts, as he threw a lot of pitches in a first inning that included a home run. Of course, it wasn’t a majestic shot by any means. He threw a two-strike, outside fastball to Gary Sanchez and the Yankees catcher put a defensive swing on the ball. However, Sanchez is so strong and the wall is so short out to right field that it just barely stayed fair and went for a two-run blast. That gave New York an early 2-0 lead.
Pomeranz settled down after that inning, though, and showed off a strong curveball and some of the better and some of the more consistent fastball velocity we’ve seen from the lefty all year long. He’s been such a big part of this rotation all year long, and once again he went out and gave Boston 6 2⁄3 strong innings against one of the better lineups in baseball. His ERA is now 3.39 on the season.
After Pomeranz left with a couple outs in the seventh, Brandon Workman came out of the bullpen and pitched well. He’d quickly end that inning, and after one batter reached in the eighth on a Devers error, Workman retired the side. Robby Scott, who was just called up earlier in the day, came on for the ninth. It was not his day, as he allowed home runs to the first two batters he faced. After that shaky start — one that forced Craig Kimbrel to start warming in the bullpen — he got three straight outs to end the game.
So, just like that the Red Sox have put Friday’s awful loss in their rearview and came back with a convincing win against their division rivals. This is what good teams do. They can’t be expected to win every game, of course, but the best teams put bad losses behind them quickly and come out firing in their next chance. Boston, and specifically Benintendi, did just that. The Red Sox are now back to a 4.5 game lead over the Yankees in the division and have a chance to extend that to 5.5 with Chris Sale on the mound Sunday night.