The Red Sox will not go an entire season without beating the Yankees, and they have Tanner Houck (among others) to thank for that. The rookie was outstanding once again in his second career start, giving up just one hit to this red-hot Yankees lineup and allowed just a single unearned run over six innings of work. He still didn’t really show off the splitter, but it didn’t matter. On the other side, the Red Sox were led by Michael Chavis, who smashed a pair of homers. They also got homers from Bobby Dalbec and J.D. Martinez as well as a four-hit day from Jackie Bradley Jr. Also, the game was delayed in the eighth when a man somehow snuck up into the Monster Seats from outside. It was utterly bizarre and, frankly, not something I can do justice with the written word.
Tanner Houck got his career off to a phenomenal start last week in Miami when he tossed five scoreless innings against the Marlins, who against all odds are a good bet to make the postseason. He was taken out after only five innings, but the results to that point were still good enough to make it the best Red Sox debut by a starter in a half-decade, dating back to Eduardo Rodriguez’s debut. It was a great foundation, but it was still just one start against a lineup that is still in the bottom half of the league despite being destined for postseason play. Houck was about to get a real test for outing number two against the Yankees.
Granted, this was not exactly an A-lineup for New York, but there was still a ton of talent coming up to the plate in Sunday’s series finale. And Houck passed his test with flying colors. The righty didn’t have the same velocity he showed early in his debut, but his arm angle and pitch movement had Yankees hitters off balance all night long.
Houck would allow just one batter in the first when a fastball got away from him that hit Luke Voit in the shoulder, but a double play made it a three-batter inning regardless, and one that took only eight pitches to complete. He then picked up his first strikeout to the day on a nasty inside two-seamer to Giancarlo Stanton to start what was a 1-2-3 second.
Houck’s first inning of more than three batters was in the third. The first runner was not his fault, though, as Clint Frazier hit a routine ground ball over to third base, but Rafael Devers’s throw brought Bobby Dalbec off the bag. Fortunately, Houck was able to get another big ground ball for Boston’s second double play of the game. The rookie issued a walk after that, but got out of the inning without a runner advancing beyond first base.
Houck continued to cruise in the fourth and fifth, too, with a 1-2-3 fourth and a fifth that started with a leadoff walk but ended with two straight strikeouts to keep that leadoff baserunner at first. That gave the Yankees no hits to that point in the game, for those keeping track at home.
With Houck going for Boston, the Yankees had an exciting rookie of their own on the mound in Deivi García. While New York’s righty is certainly more highly regarded in prospect circles, he didn’t have the day that Houck did. Boston couldn’t take advantage of a Devers double in the first, but they were able to take an early lead in the second. There, it was Jackie Bradley Jr. starting a nice day at the plate with a leadoff double before moving up to third on a passed ball. That brought Michael Chavis to the plate, and he was the star of the show among position players for Boston in this one. He got a hanging curveball from García and deposited it into the Monster Seats for a two-run shot.
They’d keep things going against the young Yankee in the third, too. They got two of their first three batters on with base hits, and then Bradley made it a 3-0 game with a base hit of his own. Chavis then got his second chance against García, and had the same result. Once again he got a hanging curveball, and once again he hit an absolute shot out to left field. This one was a three-run shot, and it gave the Red Sox a commanding 6-0 lead.
To their credit, the Yankees went to the bullpen starting in the fourth with Luis Cessa, who kept the Red Sox off the board for a couple of frames, though they did get runners in each of the fourth and fifth innings.
So, Houck carried his no-hitter into the sixth, but it wouldn’t make it very long. Tyler Wade led things off for New York, and he quickly smacked a double into right-center field to break up the no-no. The runner then moved up to third on a passed ball before Houck drew a walk, putting runners on the corners and giving the rookie arm his first test of the afternoon. As he’s shown an ability to do in each of his starts, though, he got the big ground ball to start a 6-4-3 double play. The Yankees did get their first run on the play, but the Red Sox will take that trade off every time. Houck then got another ground ball to end the inning, and his outing. It was another phenomenal performance, this one lasting six innings with just one run on one hit, a hit batter, three walks and four strikeouts.
Phillips Valdez was the first man out of the ‘pen for the Red Sox, who was able to work around a two-out walk for a scoreless inning. The offense then got back to work in the bottom of the seventh, starting with a leadoff, no-doubt shot over everything in left field to make it a 7-1 game. Bradley then followed that up with a base hit, his fourth knock of the day. After a Chavis walk and a ground out, Boston had two in scoring position and one out in a chance to break this one open. They did indeed get both runners home on a sacrifice fly and a base hit, making it a 9-1 ballgame.
Despite the large lead, Ryan Brasier still got the call for the eighth. His inning was delayed by someone somehow sneaking into the center field camera well out by the Monster Seats and throwing a hat into center field in what was the most bizarre delay I can remember. Through that, Brasier managed a 1-2-3 inning.
The Yankees then threw in the white towel, sending third-string catcher Erik Kratz to the mound for the bottom of the eighth. He made it a 10-1 game by serving up a homer to J.D. Martinez.
That just left it up to Jeffrey Springs in the ninth, who got off to a terrible start by giving up an absolute rocket of a homer to Voit. He gave up a couple more baserunners as well, but eventually ended the blowout victory for Boston, their 20th win of the year.
The Red Sox will have tomorrow off before starting their penultimate series against the Orioles on Tuesday. First pitch will be set for 7:30 PM ET.