The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox entered this weekend getting geared up for a huge series against the Yankees, with Boston holding a one-game lead before any games were played. New York came through with an easy 9-2 victory on Friday, stepping into a tie with Boston in the division. The Sox were looking for a win on Saturday, then, to get their AL East lead back and guarantee they would not leave with less than a tie in the standings. They were sending Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound with Masahiro Tanaka getting the start for New York.
It would be the Yankees who struck first in this one, as Rodriguez was hit early and New York’s bats never really eased up against the Red Sox lefty. After a quick one-pitch out to start things off, DJ LeMahieu got a hold of one and smoked a line drive into the right-center field gap for a one-out triple. Gleyber Torres followed that up with a base hit, and just like that it was a 1-0 lead for New York. That brought Giancarlo Stanton to the plate, and he quickly made it 3-0 with a two-run blast out to left field, and Rodriguez’s start was getting ugly just four batters into the game. He’d then issue a walk to Aaron Judge, who drew five walks in the game — but mercifully got out of the inning with just the three runs on the board.
The good news is the Red Sox were ready to answer right back in the second, or at least that’s what it looked like. J.D. Martinez led things off with a double high off the wall in center field, and then moved over to third base on a base hit. After Michael Chavis drew a walk, the bases were loaded with nobody out and this was Boston’s chance to get right back in this game. Mitch Moreland got to a 3-0 count after Chavis’s four-pitch walk, but the former had the green light and that ended as badly as possible. Martinez did come in to score, but Moreland grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, a trade the Yankees will take every time. It was 3-1, but the rally was pretty much killed and that would ultimately be all Boston got in the second.
And, of course, the Yankees answered right back. In fact, it happened right away. Miguel Andújar led off the inning and jumped on a 1-1 pitch, sending it into the left field seats for a solo homer, and in the blink of an eye the Red Sox deficit was back to three. After the Red Sox got a man to second with nobody out in the third but couldn’t bring him home, the Yankees got right back to work in the bottom of the inning. Or, more accurately, Rodriguez got back to work in the worst way possible. He started the inning with three straight walks to load the bases with nobody out, and after a sacrifice fly and a single his day was over after just 2 1⁄3 innings. Kevin Shackelford would come in and allow two more inherited runs to score, and by the time the dust had settled it twas a 7-1 lead for the Yankees.
That was still the score heading into the top of the fifth, when Boston did show some signs of life. Moreland started that inning off with a four-pitch walk, and then Christian Vázquez followed it up with a base hit to put the first two men on. That brought Andrew Benintendi to the plate, and he got ahold of a 1-1 pitch, hitting it 390 feet into the second deck in right field for a three-run shot, bringing Boston right back to within three and making this a ballgame once again.
Unfortunately, that was about the extent of the good news for Boston. Their bullpen was solid after Rodriguez left, to be fair, allowing just one run over those final five innings of work. The offense, though, never really threatened again. Ultimately, it was an 8-4 victory for the Yankees that put New York in the top spot in the division with the Red Sox looking to avoid a sweep on Sunday and leave the Bronx with a tie in the AL East.
Down on the farm, Pawtucket’s offense wasted a solid start from Mike Kickham in a loss, Denyi Reyes suffered an injury that will keep him out for two weeks in a loss for Portland, Ryan Zeferjahn gave up five runs in 4 2⁄3 innings in a loss for Salem and Greenville scored two in the ninth to force extras and then four in the tenth to pick up a victory.