Doug Fister is just...beyond words at this point. It’s not that he’s overpowering opponents or anything like that, but he’s done (mostly) nothing but put forth very good outings since taking David Price’s rotation spot on the trade deadline. He did it again on Friday night, and while I can’t imagine I’m going to be anything but nervous any time he takes the mound for the rest of the year he’s almost certainly earned some real confidence. His command has been spectacular of late, and while he’s had some early-game struggles he’s more than made up for it the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the offense showed off its power in this game. Sonny Gray was pretty good for the Yankees in this game, but he made a few too many mistakes and the Red Sox took him deep three times for four runs. With Fister on the mound, that was enough for a win.
Fister’s performance on Friday night was a massive one, particularly with the Yankees throwing one of their best pitchers. The Red Sox were going to have some relative troubles scoring runs, so they needed a strong performance from their pitcher. Early on, it seemed like it was going to be a dud and they’d have to go to the bullpen very early in this game, but he quickly turned things around and started to cruise. Fister has been a godsend for this team.
As I said, things were troubling from the start. Fister came right out and immediately allowed some loud contact out of the gate. Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge started the game with back-to-back doubles — each hitting liners into the gap — and the Yankees had a 1-0 lead before they even recorded an out. Then....Fister settled down. Really, it was as quick as that. With Judge on second, he induced three straight groundouts to strand the star rookie in scoring position and get out of the first with just the one run allowed.
After that inning, he didn’t even really get into any trouble. The Yankees did get a couple of baserunners against Fister, but they never even advanced beyond first base. Just like his outing in Cleveland, the Red Sox veteran allowed early loud contact then found his groove and never lost it. In the end, he tossed seven full innings while allowing just the one run on four hits, one walk and five strikeouts. With Fister, it kind of feels like a house of cards and you don’t want to be too loud about his success for fear that it will all fall down. The more he does this, though, the harder it’s becoming to ignore.
On offense, it was kind of the reverse of Fister’s night. The Red Sox got off to a slow start against Sonny Gray as the new(ish) Yankee was fantastic to start and slowly began losing his command as the game went on. It took some time for the Red Sox to capitalize, but Fister kept the game in hand long enough for them to do so.
Through the first two innings and the first batter of the third, the Red Sox didn’t have a hit. Their only baserunner to that point was Rafael Devers, who reached when strike three got by the catcher. Things changed in the third when Brock Holt drew a one-out walk, giving the Red Sox their first “legitimate” baserunner. They got their first hit right after that, and it was a big one. Instead of bunting, Eduardo Nuñez took a splitter below the strike zone and parked it over the wall in left field for a two-run home run. The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead on the swing.
They’d get a couple more baserunners over the next inning-plus, but no real rallies came after the home run. That is, until the fifth. There, after two quick popouts to start the frame, Andrew Benintendi got a fastball right down the heart of the plate and did not miss it. He destroyed it out to right field for his fifth home run in Yankee Stadium this year, giving Boston a 3-1 lead. They’d come back out and get another one on yet another home run in the seventh, this time from Hanley Ramirez.
So, it was up to the bullpen for the final two innings with a 4-1 lead. The Red Sox turned to Addison Reed first, as one would expect. He came through with an easy 1-2-3 inning. The ninth belonged to Craig Kimbrel, and he tossed a 1-2-3 frame of his own for the save.
So, with the win the Red Sox climb back up to 5.5 games up in the division and guarantee they’ll have at least a 3.5 game lead when this series is over. If things go well, though, and they win the next two games they could really bury the Yankees with a 7.5 game lead with a little less than a month to go. I like that idea, let’s do that. They’ll have Drew Pomeranz on the bump as they attempt another win Saturday afternoon.