It was Dustin Pedroia day at Fenway, with the franchise icon being honored prior to first pitch. The Red Sox came out amped up, and early on it looked like it was going to be a long, back-and-forth affair. Instead, both bullpens entered the game early and shut down the opposing lineups. Boston was able to sneak in a go-ahead run in the fourth while Hirokazu Sawamura, Garrett Whitlock, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Barnes combined for 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings to lock down the big win, making it four in a row to start the season series against the Yankees.
The Red Sox came into this game Friday pumped up, not only because they’re playing the Yankees in a close playoff race after losing a frustrating game and series to the Rays immediately preceding it, but also because it was Dustin Pedroia Day. Immediately before the game, the Red Sox players, donning “Dustin” number 15 shirts, watched a legend of their franchise on the field getting love from other legends as well as the most full Fenway we’ve seen since before the pandemic. It seemed all but certain they were going to come out with high energy, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, with little in between.
It was the good kind of energy in that first inning, which was all Red Sox. In the top half, Martín Pérez had no trouble at all with a quick 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout of Gary Sánchez on a perfect changeup. And then in the bottom half, Boston got to Yankees starter Domingo Germán. Michael Chavis was back in the leadoff spot, and he started things off with a base hit before Alex Verdugo smacked one of his own. After the first out was recorded, Chavis made what seemed like an ill-advised decision to steal third, but it worked out as he got in safely.
As it turned out, however, it wouldn’t really matter where he was standing. Xander Bogaerts came to the plate and ripped a double out to left-center field, scoring both runners with Verdugo coming all the way around from first to give Boston the 2-0 lead. A couple of batters later, Hunter Renfroe ripped a nearly identical double to Bogaerts’s, and it was a 3-0 Boston lead after one.
The momentum was not going to last for very long, as the Yankees got going in the second before the defense let their pitcher down. Pérez issued a leadoff walk before giving up a single to put the first two men on, and then after a strikeout the bad defense came into play. Gio Urshela hit a ground ball right at Bogaerts that looked like it should be an inning-ending double play. Instead, Bogaerts booted the fairly routine play, so the Red Sox got no outs and the bases were full of Yankees.
Pérez did answer back from the bad play with a big strikeout, and then Clint Frazier came up and worked a long at bat. There were a couple of borderline calls that went in Frazier’s favor, much to the chagrin of Pérez, and eventually the ump called ball four and the Yankees had their first run of the evening on the free pass. DJ LeMahieu then stepped to the plate and lined a base hit into right field, scoring two more and tying this game up at three runs apiece.
After the Red Sox went down without a run in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees got right back to work in the third with three straight hard-hit balls to start the inning. The first was snagged on a great diving play from Rafael Devers for the first out, but the other two were base hits to put runners on first and second. This time Pérez got the double play, with Devers starting things off with another nice pick, ending the inning.
When we made our way to the bottom of the inning, it was the Yankees’ glovework that got in the way. J.D. Martinez led off the inning with a walk before getting over to second on a wild pitch. A couple of batters later, it seemed as though Devers made the second out on a slow roller back to the mound, but Germán bobbled it then couldn’t pick it up cleanly, allowing Devers to reach on an error and Martinez to get to third with just one out. That was a huge play, because Hunter Renfroe followed it up with a sacrifice fly, putting Boston back in front by a run.
Making our way into the fourth, it was Renfroe showing off again, but this time with the defense rather than the bat. After Gio Urshela led off the inning with a double (that almost resulted in an out at second base if not for a nice swim move slide from the runner), Miguel Andújar poked a base hit through the right side. Off the bat, it seemed sure to tie the game, but Urshela was not moving very well and Renfroe has a cannon. The latter threw a strike, cutting down Urshela by a mile and stopping the Yankees in their track.
Pérez would get one more out before Alex Cora came out, trying to get away from the lefty for the third time through a Yankees lineup that included a righty in every spot. Hirokazu Sawamura came on and got the final out on a nice play from Bogaerts and Marwin Gonzalez, keeping the lead in hand. The righty also handled the fifth, getting through the frame perfectly.
With the score still sitting at 4-3 heading into the sixth, it was Garrett Whitlock entering the game for Boston. He was able to handle his former club, allowing just a single and striking out two in the scoreless inning of work. He’d be back out for the seventh as well after his offense drew two walks but yet again couldn’t score. Whitlock had to face the top three batters in the Yankees order, but he got three straight ground balls for a perfect frame.
The Red Sox offense again failed to provide any insurance in the seventh — and in fact struck out four times in the inning — and it was Adam Ottavino coming out (also against his former club, though he actually pitched in the majors there unlike Whitlock) for the eighth. Ottavino was lights out, striking out a pair in a perfect inning of work.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox were finally able to add some insurance thanks to an RBI single from Christian Vázquez, which came after the Yankees lost Zack Britton to an injury that didn’t look great. So now it was a two-run lead with Matt Barnes coming in for the ninth. The inning started with an infield single on a ball Bogaerts had to charge, and it took him an extra half-second to get the ball out of the glove which resulted in the baserunner.
So now the tying run was coming to the plate for the Yankees, and Andújar followed it up with a solid single to put the first two men on. That was followed by a big strikeout, but then the top of the order was coming up, still with two on and just one out. But Barnes would need just one pitch, getting a huge double play ball on the first pitch he threw to LeMahieu to end the game.
The 5-3 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 45-31. With the Rays also winning, they remain a half-game back in the division.
The Red Sox and Yankees continue this three-game set on Saturday night with Nathan Eovaldi taking on Jordan Montgomery. First pitch is set for 7:15 PM ET.