What a win to finish off an incredible weekend at Fenway Park. David Price came into the game just looking for a good showing against a team that has destroyed him for years now, and he did that and more. Unfortunately he left some runners on base that would come in to score thanks to a bad day for Heath Hembree and a Xander Bogaerts error, and the Yankees took a late lead that looked safe. Well, not with this Red Sox team. They came back to tie it with a three-run ninth against Aroldis Chapman, and then Andrew Benintendi would win it in the tenth. This team never quits, and it’s absolutely unbelievable.
Heading into this game, all eyes were on David Price. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the Red Sox really didn’t have a ton of pressure on them after winning the first three games of the series. Sure, going up 9.5 was wildly enticing, but a loss was not going to be the end of the world. If you were divvying up the pressure index for both teams, it would have heavily favored the Yankees. For Price, though, there was pressure. His struggles against the Yankees since joining the Red Sox were well-known, and with each start against the rivals the cries were getting louder as well as more justified. He really needed to come through with a strong start to stall the momentum of the narrative. He was never going to change it with one single start, but he was ready to take a step in the right direction.
The start to that quest did not go so well, and early on it appeared that it could be a long night for Price. After a quick first out, the lefty allowed a hard-hit (120 mph!) single and then hit a batter (unintentionally), to put two on with just one out. After a big strikeout on a fortunate call, he would allow one more single to load the bases. That brought Luke Voit to the plate to give the Yankees their first sense of momentum since the very beginning of Thursday’s game. He did not succeed, grounding out back to Price to lead the bases loaded and keep the scoreboard full of zeroes.
So, Price got out of the jam, but things weren’t encouraging. His command looked off, he benefitted from the strike zone a bit and it just seemed as if the Yankees could pick up pretty quickly where they left off. Except, that’s not what happened. Price settled down in a big way and found himself in a major groove after that first. He retired the 7-8-9 hitters in order in the second, then did the same with the 1-2-3 hitters in the third. In the fourth he allowed a two-out walk to Voit, but that was all.
The fifth would seem like the biggest chance of trouble against Price since the first, as Austin Romine reached on an infield single to lead things off. Shane Robinson then bunted him over to second, giving the Yankees a runner in scoring position for the top of the lineup with just one out. It was put up or shut up time for Price, and he put up. The southpaw got ground outs from both Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton, and the Yankees still couldn’t plate a run against the Red Sox starter.
Unfortunately, Price wasn’t getting much support from his teammates as they were getting shut down by Masahiro Tanaka. It was kind of a weird day for the Red Sox offense, as they did a good job of working counts and driving up Tanaka’s workload on the day, but they were also flailing at some disgusting offspeed stuff from the Yankees starter. In particular he made Steve Pearce and J.D. Martinez — two of the hottest hitters in this lineup — look real bad in this game.
The Red Sox did look to have a chance very early in this game when Andrew Benintendi continued to kill the Yankees with a one-out double in the bottom half of the first. Pearce and Martinez both followed that up with a strikeout, though, and the runner was stranded. Boston then got two baserunners in the second, but one was caught stealing (on what should have been ball four, to be fair), and they never had a runner beyond first base.
After that, the Red Sox stranded two in the third (thanks again to strikeouts from Pearce and Martinez) before wasting a leadoff walk in the fourth. Again, they were working the count against Tanaka, but they couldn’t break through. That finally changed in the fifth, and it changed because of the best player on the team. Mookie Betts stepped to the plate with one out and Tanaka threw him a cutter that stayed belt-high out over the middle of the plate. Betts got his arms extended and sent it way out to left field for a solo homer, finally breaking the 0-0 tie. Boston couldn’t get more beyond the one run, but it was a lead.
Price then came back out for the top of the sixth looking for a big shutdown inning with the middle of New York’s lineup coming up. He did walk the second batter he faced, but with one on and one out he came back with two massive strikeouts to get through six scoreless innings and 95 pitches under his belt.
After the Red Sox failed to score in the bottom half of the inning, Price was brought back out for the seventh in a mildly surprising move by Alex Cora. That inning started with a leadoff single from Brett Gardner along with a walk to Romine, and that was Price’s night. He pitched extremely well, but left some trouble to be cleaned up by Heath Hembree.
Hembree did not get off to a great start, as he walked Robinson when the outfielder was trying to drop down a sacrifice bunt. Things got worse from there, when Aaron Hicks hit a grounder up the middle. Xander Bogaerts was right there, but the ball ate him up completely and a potential double play turned to no outs and two runs. With the Yankees now leading 2-1, Stanton drove in another run with a single. New York would eventually add one more to their total, leaving the inning with a 4-1 lead.
The Red Sox threatened against Zach Britton in the bottom half of the inning when Sandy León drew a leadoff walk. He’d eventually get over to third, but the Red Sox couldn’t get him to the plate and the Yankees kept their three-run lead.
After both teams failed to score in the eighth and Tyler Thornburg threw a scoreless ninth, the Red Sox had one more chance against Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees closer battled with some control issues in the ninth, walking both León and Betts to bring Benintendi up to the plate with one out representing the tying run. He would strike out, but Pearce drew a big walk to load the bases for Martinez. He couldn’t win or tie it, but on the first pitch he smashed a single into center field to score two and bring the Red Sox within one with Bogaerts coming to the plate with the tying run at second base. He did that simply by putting the ball in play with a ground ball to Miguel Andujar at third base. The Yankees third baseman couldn’t make a strong throw to first base, as the ball got away from Greg Bird and Jackie Bradley Jr. came in to score the tying run on the error.
So, we headed into extras with Matt Barnes getting the ball in the tenth. He did what he’s done all year, throwing an easy 1-2-3 inning on just nine pitches. After a couple of quick outs to start the bottom of the tenth, León came through with a two-out single before moving to second on a wild pitch. That led to an intentional walk to Betts, and Tony Renda coming in to pinch it. Because baseball is the weirdest, Renda would come in to score the game-winning run on a Benintendi single and Boston had a most improbably victory. Unbelievable.
Some how, some way, the Red Sox have opened up a 9.5-game lead in the American League East. It’s absolutely bananas, and it’s the largest lead of any division leader in baseball. This team is something else, and they’ll look to keep the good times rolling when they pick back up on Tuesday in Toronto.