Well, that was a fun weekend. After dropping three of four in Houston earlier this week, the Red Sox were trying not to let that snowball into a losing streak. That was a real possibility given their schedule, but the good news for them is that the Yankees are reeling right now. Boston made sure not to change that, and they finished off a sweep on Sunday. It took extra innings after Matt Barnes blew only his second save of the season, but Xander Bogaerts came through with the clutch two-out hit in the tenth to give Boston a two-run lead. Good times in the Bronx.
Red Sox pitchers have made a habit of late of getting into a whole lot of trouble. To their credit, they have also been very good at walking a tightrope, and there has been some dominance in there, but there have been a whole lot of innings that ended with runs for the opponent but also the feeling that things could have been much worse. All of the pitchers have had those kinds of moments, and right now it’s been happening a lot to Garrett Richards. That was also the case on Sunday in his first taste of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
The good news for the Red Sox starter is that he did get a little support early on from his offense. Going up against Domingo Germán, Alex Verdugo stepped to the plate in the top of the first with nobody on and one out. He changed the score with one swing. Germán tried to get a high fastball by Verdugo on a 1-0 count, but he caught too much of the zone and Verdugo was all over it. He smashed a solo homer way out to right field, and two batters into the game it was a 1-0 lead for Boston.
That was all they’d get in that inning, and then New York started to get to Richards pretty much right away. He started his start with a strikeout, but after that this Yankees lineup got very aggressive early in counts, resulting in some good contact and three straight one-out singles to load the bases. That brought Gary Sánchez to the plate, and while he’d been struggling pretty mightily in this series he came through this time, smacking a double out to left field to make it a 2-1 game. There were still a pair in scoring position with just one out too, but this is where Richards wriggled out of it with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
So, now Boston was trailing by a run, but they had already scored early and it felt like a win to only be down one. Unfortunately, the offense really struggled to get much of anything going after the first inning against Germán. They got a leadoff single in the third but nothing else, and then a leadoff single in the fourth but Xander Bogaerts tried to stretch it into a double and was cut down. Throw in a walk in the fourth as well, and that was all Boston was able to get against the Yankees righty through the fifth.
Over on the other side, Richards certainly improved some after the first, but he still found himself in trouble again later. In the third, he gave up a leadoff single but then got a big double play after that. That double play would loom large because New York got two more base hits in the inning but couldn’t get a run.
The fourth didn’t end as well, with control being the problem in that inning for Richards. After issuing a handful of walks in each of his last few outings, he hadn’t issued one through the first three innings, but then in the fourth he gave up a one-out single followed by two walks. New York had the bases loaded with just one out, but Richards got a big play from his defense when Marwin Gonzalez was able to get to a ball behind the second base bag and make a good off-balance throw to second to get one out. A run scored, but it could have been a two-run single. That was also the only run the Yankees would get in the rally, making it a 3-1 game.
That was still the score in the top half of the sixth, and Germán got two outs quickly to start the inning. Bogaerts would keep the inning alive, though, by drawing a walk, and with the lefty in Rafael Devers coming up the Yankees went to the bullpen. Boston was hoping a new presence would be the solution to their woes, but Devers went down looking to end the inning.
Boston would also dip into their bullpen in the sixth, with Darwinzon Hernandez coming on to start the inning. The lefty did issue a walk to start the inning, but then came back with a big double play. That was followed by a walk of Brett Gardner in the nine-hole, but Hernandez was able to get DJ LeMahieu looking to keep the deficit at two.
Lucas Luetge, who finished off the sixth for New York, came back out for the seventh, but things didn’t go quite as smoothly. Hunter Renfroe, a lefty masher, didn’t get a pitch to hit in a four-pitch walk, and then Marwin Gonzalez came to the dish. He’s a better hitter from the right side of late, and it showed here as he went down and got a slider down and in, putting it up and over the wall in the left-field corner for a two-run shot. Just like that, we were all tied up in the Bronx.
That was all they’d get in the inning, and it was Adam Ottavino coming out in the bottom of the seventh in a suddenly-even game. He did issue a leadoff walk, but was able to navigate any potential issues with three straight outs to keep things tied heading into the eighth.
Boston caught a break to start this inning when Christian Arroyo (who came in to hit for Danny Santana) popped one into shallow right field. It ended up near no-man’s land, and LeMahieu misplayed it for what was called a double but sure looked to me like a two-base error. Arroyo would then move up to third on a ground ball, giving the Red Sox a big chance to take the lead again with Bogaerts coming up. He did what he needed to do, sending a fly ball deep enough out to center field to easily bring Arroyo home on the sacrifice fly.
That gave the Red Sox a one-run lead, and Josh Taylor got the call for the bottom of the inning. He did give up a base hit, and the Yankees had a big chance with Giancarlo Stanton coming in to pinch hit against the lefty. He could’ve given the Yankees the lead if he got ahold of one. Instead Taylor got the slugger swinging to end the inning and keep the lead in hand.
In the ninth, the offense had a promising start when Renfroe ripped a leadoff double, but that was all they got. And so we headed into the bottom of the ninth with Matt Barnes looking to close this one out and finish the sweep. It was the righty’s third straight game with an appearance, and he wasn’t as sharp as we’ve gotten used to this year. After a quick first out, he issued a walk to Aaron Judge before Gleyber Torres came through with a double into left field. The ball got all the way to the wall, and after a little bobble from Verdugo the run easily came all the way around from first.
Just like that, the game was tied and Barnes had blown his second save of the season. Now, the mission was to force the game into extras, trying to escape the inning with a runner on second and just one down. He got a big strikeout for the second out, and then after an intentional walk of Sánchez, Rougned Odor came in to pinch hit with the game on the line. Torres was able to get over to third on an easy stolen base without a throw, but Barnes was able to get out of it with a huge strikeout. And, in the interest of fairness, the third strike was clearly a ball, and should have been ball four.
But the Red Sox are not going to complain about that break, and they headed into extras with the man starting the inning on second. The tenth started with a walk from Bobby Dalbec (on which ball four was a close pitch, and the Yankees lost their second coach of the night to an ejection), and then a bunt moved two runners into scoring position with just one out. Verdugo couldn’t come through, hitting a ground ball to second base with the infield in for the second out with the runner standing on third. That left things up to Bogaerts, and he would indeed come through. He smacked a base hit into left-center field, and both runners came in to make it a 6-4 ballgame.
Now, it was up to Phillips Valdez to close this one out. It was not a good start with his first pitch hitting Clint Frazier, and the tying run was able to get on base right away. Valdez kept his cool, though, and got a big double play ball right back to the mound. It was almost a disaster with both throws being a bit low, but they got the two outs with one runner moving up to third base. That brought Tyler Wade to the plate, and he hit a slow roller to the right side. It was weak contact, but it was well-placed as Gonzalez had almost no chance to make an accurate throw with his momentum going toward home plate. He still tried it, and the throw got away. So not only did the run come home, but the tying run was standing at second base with LaMahieu coming to the dish.
Valdez was able to win this one, getting another grounder to the right side. This time Gonzalez made up for the error, making a nice play going toward the second base bag and making the throw to finish the game. The 6-5 victory finished a sweep and pushed the Red Sox record to 36-23.
The Red Sox now head back to Fenway where they have a makeup game against the Marlins on Monday. They’ll have Nick Pivetta on the mound with Pablo López going on the other side. First pitch is set for 5:10 PM ET.