So, uh, yeah. The rivalry might be back, you guys. We already knew heading into this series that this was going to be a fun year between the Red Sox and Yankees, but things escalated to another level on Wednesday. It started with a Tyler Austin slide into Brock Holt with his spikes up, and that led to a rather cordial meeting of the two teams in the field. Then, a few innings later Joe Kelly plunked Austin with a fastball and all hell broke loose. Austin charged the mound, legitimate punches were thrown and everyone simultaneously tweeted about the rivalry being back.
In between all of that, an actual game was played, and it didn’t go super well for the Red Sox. David Price was shelled in the first inning and then left the game with a “sensation in his left hand,” which doesn’t sound great. The Yankees lineup, particularly the top half and super particularly Gary Sanchez, did damage all night long and while the Red Sox did get a little bit of life in the middle of this game, it was New York’s game all the way.
Things got off to about as poor of a start as the Red Sox could have imagined, and that was before Price was taken out. It was pretty clear from the get-go that he didn’t have it, though it wasn’t obvious right away that it was (possibly) a physical ailment. Still, after showing pin-point control in his first two starts and commanding the strike zone with ease, he was missing just about every spot in that first inning. Even worse, he was doing that with completely flat stuff. That’s...well, it’s not a great combination against this Yankees lineup. Unsurprisingly, they made him pay right away. Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge led off the game with a single and a walk, and then Giancarlo Stanton ripped a triple off the 420 marker in straightaway center field and just like that it was 2-0. A couple batters later, it would only get worse when Sanchez hit his first homer of the day, rocking a Price fastball over the wall in left field to give New York a 4-0 lead. That was all the Yanks would get off Price in the inning, though he’d allow one more baserunner, but it was a big first-inning lead and they’d be able to get into the Red Sox bullpen immediately after.
Things didn’t really slow down for the Yankees offense after Price left, either. Bobby Poyner got the call first, and although he didn’t allow a run in his first inning of work he did allow a couple of baserunners. In the third, it got a little wild. Poyner got off to a horrendous start here, allowing a double to Sanchez before a pair of singles to get one run in and leave two on with nobody out. That brought up Tyler Wade, who dropped down a bunt to Rafael Devers. The third baseman tossed it over to Brock Holt for a potential double play, but that was broken up by a dirty slide. Holt took exception to the raised spikes, the benches cleared for a minute, the umps reviewed the play to see whether it should be a double play but deemed it shouldn’t for...reasons. It was a weird call, but the Red Sox would get a double play on a great diving catch by Mitch Moreland on the play to end the inning.
That ended Poyner’s day, bringing on Heath Hembree next. The righty also was not able to get through this Yankee lineup without issues. He started things off with two straight singles before Didi Gregorius hit a one-out sacrifice fly. If that had been it, the Red Sox could have lived with it, but Sanchez was unfortunately up next. This is when the second run came, opening up an 8-1 lead for the Yankees. Hembree would finally give the Red Sox their first clean inning in the fifth.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense had a hell of a time with Masahiro Tanaka after looking like they might have a big day early. After New York’s big first inning, the Red Sox came back in the bottom half and almost got a nice two-out rally going. They did get one run on an absolute laser-beam home run from Hanley Ramirez on a ball that left the park in about one-tenth of a second. The Red Sox would get two more runners on after that but couldn’t score more runs.
That would hurt, because Tanaka settled in in a big way over the next three innings. In that first it took the righty 25 pitches to get through the side, and then he came out and retired nine straight on 20 pitches. It was starting to look completely hopeless for the Red Sox.
Then, the fifth inning happened and there was suddenly some surprise hope for this Boston lineup. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Holt got a couple of base knocks to bring Mookie Betts up with two on and one out, and he came through with an RBI double. After Devers flew out with two in scoring position, Ramirez walked to load the bases for J.D. Martinez. The Red Sox slugger just missed a grand slam on Tuesday, but he didn’t miss it this time around, crushing one into the center-field seats. All of a sudden, with the team’s third grand slam in four days, the Red Sox were within two.
So, Boston had a little bit of momentum on their side and turned to Matt Barnes in the top half of the sixth to keep that going. In his first outing since April 3, he did not get it done. As happens to often with the righty, he didn’t have control of the strike zone and the Yankees took advantage. Gardner led things off with a walk, then stole second and moved to third on a bad throw from Christian Vazquez (the throw was Boston’s first error of the year), then he scored on a Stanton single. Then it was Stanton’s turn as he advanced two bases on a pair of wild pitches before being knocked in on a sacrifice fly. Just like that, the momentum was gone and the Yankees worked their lead back up to four runs.
If things got a little wild earlier in the game, they got Extremely Wild in the seventh. Kelly came in to pitch, and after a quick first out Mr. Austin came to the plate. The Red Sox got their Tough Guy Retribution for the slide earlier in the game when Kelly got Austin in the ribs with a pitch. Austin didn’t take too kindly to things, and Kelly eagerly waved him in for a fight. They did the fisticuffs thing, and this was a legitimate fight, not just pushing, shoving and socializing. When the dust settled, Kelly and Austin had been ejected (obviously). Brian Johnson came out to resume play and set the next two Yankees down, but the park was still all caught up in the fight.
Benches clear, punches thrown in Yankees-Red Sox after Tyler Austin is hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly. pic.twitter.com/wvqoak8QMV— MLB (@MLB) April 12, 2018
Not too much happened after the brawl, but the Red Sox did make things interesting against Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. Bradley and Vazquez led things off with hits to put two on with nobody out, and Alex Cora inexplicably sent Sandy Leon up to pinch hit when he had Andrew Benintendi on the bench. He was likely trying to avoid a lefty/lefty matchup, but A) Benintendi against a lefty is still better than Leon, B) Benintendi is more likely to draw a walk against a wild Chapman, and C) if you really want to avoid Benintendi you’d still use Swihart over Leon. Either way, it didn’t work as Leon hit a fly ball too shallow to knock in a run, Betts struck out and Devers struck out. They did get one on a wild pitch, but it wasn’t enough. The win streak is over, and there is bad blood between these two teams.
So, after a wild game we’ll come back and do it all again tomorrow with the Red Sox looking to start a new win streak. Hopefully, the donnybrooks are over and the Yankees don’t retaliate, but something tells me we haven’t seen the last of the bad blood between these two teams. Either way, it’s going to be Rick Porcello taking on Sonny Gray at 7:10 PM ET.
Update on David Price:
David Price should be fine, and nothing related to last year’s issues, #Redsox manager Alex Cora says— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 12, 2018