It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but the Red Sox avoided the sweep. They got an outstanding start from Eduardo Rodriguez, who kept the Yankees off the scoreboard for five innings. They also got some early offense from Hanley Ramirez and late, clutch hitting from J.D. Martinez. The bullpen wasn’t great, but Craig Kimbrel came through this time around to lock up the victory and get back into a tie atop the division. Wins are fun.
Rodriguez was as good as we’ve seen him this year and the lefty gave the Red Sox exactly what they needed on Thursday night in the Bronx. We’ve talked a lot over the last few years about his repertoire and tendency to rely too much on the fastball. It’s still something to be mindful of and he had a good changeup and cutter in this game, but the fastball was the pitch that did the most damage in this one. In the interest of fairness it should be noted that he benefitted from a somewhat large zone, but the results were great.
Things were good from the very beginning for Rodriguez, who was handed a one-run lead before he even toom the mound. The lefty did need 22 pitxhes to get theough the first, but he allowed just a walk. He’d come back with a pair of 1-2-3 innings after that with five strikeouts between the second and third innings.
The Yankees would have their best shot against Rodriguez in the fourth, and breathing got pretty heavy in Boston here. Things started with an Aaron Judge walk, and after a quick first out New York got a single and a walk to loaded the bases with just one down. Rodriguez got a huge strikeout against Tyler Austin for out number two before getting an inning-ending flyout. The threat was over with no damage done.
Rodriguez would have to sit for over an hour before his final inning of work thanks to falling water, but he didnt miss a beat in the fifth. The southpaw got another 1-2-3 inning there, including two more strikeouts. In all, Rodriguez allowed just one hit over five shutout innings with eight strikeouts and three walks. A hell of a performance.
While all of this was going on, the Red Sox offense was getting off to a nice start against CC Sabathia. This was encouraging not only for the obvious reasons but also A) because they’ve struggled against lefties all year and B) because Sabathia totally owned them in 2017. Letting him settle into a groove could have been terrible.
It didnt happen this time around, as Mookie Betts started things off with a bang. The star smacked a ground-rule double out to right field right off the bat, and he’d come around to score on a couple of groundouts.
After getting a couple on in the second but failing to score, they got right back to it in the third. Here, Betts once again started things off, this time with a single. Andrew Benintendi followed that up with a double to put two in scoring position with nobody out, and Hanlet Ramirez knocked in his second run of the night with a single. Right after that, J.D. Martinez hit into a fielder’s choice to knock in another run and give Boston a 3-0 lead.
That score would hold heading into the fifth, when Ramirez led things off. He got a fastball from Sabathia and smashed it over the wall in left field for his second homer in as many days and to give him his third RBI of the night. It also gave Boston a nice little 4-0 lead, and apparently was hit so well that it opened the skies because the rain delay immediately followed the blast.
From here we fast-forward to the sixth when the Red Sox had to turn to their bullpen to get through the rest of this game. Matt Barnes came on first and was able to work his way around a leadoff walk to hold the four-run lead.
Heath Hembree was called upon for the seventh, and things didn’t go so well for him. After a quick first out, he allowed back-to-back singles and a four-pitch walk to load the bases with just one out. Alex Cora had seen enough, and called for Joe Kelly to clean up the mess.
It didnt start well for Kelly, either, who threw another four-pitch walk. That brought up Judge, who put a single through the left side and all of a sudden the lead was down to two with the bases still loaded with just one out and Didi Gregorius at the plate. The shortstop did make an out on a grounder to second base, but it was too soft for a double play. Another run scored, and runners were on the corners with two outs for Giancarlo Stanton. The slugger didn’t even have to do anything to tie it as a pitch in the dirt got by Christian Vazquez and the game ws tied. Kelly did get Stanton after that, but the damage was done. It was a tie game heading into the eighth.
So, it was a pretty demoralizing time for Sox fans at the time, but Martinez got the feelings back up pretty quickly. The slugger got a Yankee Stadium Special with a pop up finding the short porch in right field and just barely clearing both the wall and Judge’s glove (which may have been interfered with by some fans) to give the Red Sox the lead right back.
That was all they’d get in the top half before turning back to Kelly. It was another grind if an inning for the Red Sox bullpen. This time, Kelly walked the leadoff man, then after getting two outs he allowed a single to push the tying run into scoring position. That brought up Neil Walker, and Kelly was able to get him on a nasty changeup to end the threat with a K and preserve the one-run lead.
The Red Sox couldn’t get anything in the ninth, so it was up to Craig Kimbrel to close it out. After blowing the save on Wednesday, he came right back o Thursday and got the job done this tome around with a 1-2-3 inning.
The Red Sox move on from this wild series in the Bronx and head up to Toronto for the weekend. Chris Sale will be on the mound taking on Aaron Sanchez. First pitch is at 7:07 PM ET.