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Red Sox 6, Yankees 5 (10): We Needed That One

Alex Verdugo, you absolute king.

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

This game was the polar opposite of the two that proceeded it. Instead of a relentless parade of hits and runs, the opposing pitchers dueled deep into the game, neither relinquishing more than a run. The bullpens were mostly excellent as well, that is until the Yankees struck for two runs against Jake Diekman in the top of the 10th.

The Red Sox won and damn, did they need to. It was a cathartic evening at Fenway and you could hear it in the cheers of the fans in attendance. Fenway was loud all night, but it reached its apex at the end, when Alex Verdugo sent a rocket into left field and Jeter Downs dove headlong into home plate for the wining run.

Red Sox 6, Yankees 5. Here’s how it went down.

Red Sox starter Kutter Crawford found little issue with the top of the Yankee order in the first, despite taking a ground ball from Gleyber Torres off his leg. He refused treatment and sat down the Bronx Bombers in order, victimizing Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo with strikeouts in the process. He ramped his velocity up as high as 96 mph to blow fastballs by those two sluggers.

Crawford didn’t shy away in the second. He challenged Giancarlo Stanton with some power fastballs and biting cutters, ultimately striking the Yankee designated hitter on four pitches. It only took five to cut down the next hitter, Josh Donaldson. Matt Carpenter and Aaron Hicks drew consecutive walks but a harmless infield fly ball from Isiah Kiner-Falefa ended the frame.

Yankee starter Jordan Montgomery was serving up attractive pitches to the Sox in the second and they took advantage. Xander Bogaerts landed the first Red Sox hit of the night — a single laced to left field — and was pushed up to second as Alex Verdugo grounded softly to short. Torres had no shot at cutting down Xander and instead took the sure out at first. It proved to be a productive out when Bobby Dalbec singled back up the middle, allowing Bogaerts to score standing up from second. That lone run was all they could muster, but it was still the only time Boston had scored first in this series.

Judge’s 109 mph single with one out in the third was the first Yankees’ first hit, but it was sandwiched between a Kyle Higashaki groundout, then two flyouts from Torres and Rizzo, so it created really no trouble at all. The same could be said for the Red Sox in the third against Montgomery, who went down 1-2-3.

I don’t want to dwell on the top of the fourth because nothing relevant to the outcome of the game, but Dalbec let another pop-up drop around him after losing it in the dimming Boston sky. He picked up the ball, gunned it to second and hosed Carpenter as he tried to take second. But still, this is a weird and kind of concerning trend, no? Three nights in a row a Red Sox defender let a pop-up hit at them fall on the grass. Maybe I am reading too much into it but leaving easy outs on the table is playing with fire against this lineup and really any lineup.

But it wasn’t the defense at fault when the Yankees scored their first run of the game. That was all Crawford. He served a change-up right over the heart of the plate to Hicks, who turned on it for a one-run, game-tying homer to left field as the fifth inning’s lead-off hitter.

It wasn’t all bad in the fifth, though! In fact, far from it. Kevin Plawecki caught his cut down a runner on a steal attempt for the first time this season and Crawford, after fanning Judge for the second time, let out a celebratory scream before strolling to the dugout. How did Kutter do it? With a cutter.

It was his final out, an exclamation point on an outstanding night that the Red Sox desperately needed. He went five innings, allowing just one run on four hits while adding six impressive strikeouts. A spent and undermanned Red Sox pitching staff was grateful.

But after a quiet home half of the fifth, the Red Sox turned to their bullpen and, as Ryan Braiser took the mound for the top of the sixth, he almost immediately relinquished the lead. A single from Torres and double from Rizzo was all the Yankees needed to plate their second run without recording an out. It was not entirely Braiser’s fault, however. Rizzo’s “double” was in reality a misplayed liner by Duran. It was hard hit and falling in between two outfielders, not an easy play. But Duran did not take the best route to the ball and let it get by as he dove to make the catch. The Yankees added another on a single from Donaldson to make it 3-1.

The Red Sox responded loudly and quickly. Refsnyder led off the bottom of the sixth with a 436-foot solo shot to the Mass Pike that cut the Yankees’ lead in half and elicited a fresh round of “Yankees S**k” chants from the stands at Fenway.

The existing tension mounted further as two more singles drove Montogmery from the mound and forced Aaron Boone to call for Michael King, a proverbial Get Out of Jail Free card in the Yankee bullpen, to face right-handed Trevor Story. King easily won the battle, inducing a flyout from Story to end the threat. Alex Cora, recognizing the gravity of the moment, countered with his own bullpen ace, John Schrieber, who retired the Yankees in the top of the seventh without a hiccup.

King returned to sit down the Red Sox calmly and efficiently in the bottom of the seventh. Then the Red Sox used another one of their silver bullets — Tanner Houck — to match New York’s excellent relief pitching and he delivered a 1-2-3 frame of his own in the eighth.

J.D. Martinez finally broke through against King in his third inning on the hill, lacing a two out-double into the left-center field gap. Boone pulled King for his final and most powerful bullpen weapon, closer Clay Holmes.

Jeter Downs, recently recalled from Worcester, ran for Martinez at second and Bogaerts took first after drawing a rare walk from Holmes. Verdugo followed and delivered with the kind of clutch hit that had been missing for so long. He snuck a two-strike single past Torres into left field. Hicks did not attempt a throw home and Downs scored without contention to knot the game at three, all.

Having thrown just 12 pitches, Houck was more than ready to throw the ninth. He pitched around a walk to Gallo to hold the Yankees scoreless and set up a walk-off in the bottom half.

Instead, the Red Sox went down in order. Predictably, the Yankees scored on their first batter of the 10th. With LiMahieu as the automatic runner on second, Judge doubled to deep center off of Jake Diekman and gave his team a one-run lead. Rizzo added another double to make it 5-3.

In the bottom half of the 10th, the Red Sox were able to put runners on first and second with one out. Downs knocked a seeing-eye grounder past the second baseman Torres to score one and make it 5-4. He set up Verdugo with a second and third chance that he capitalized on. He laced a single to left and Carpenter’s throw was not in time as Refsnyder and Downs combined for the tying and winning runs.

What once seemed like a hopeless weekend has been transformed into new life. The Red Sox have new life and a second chance at salvaging this series. They can tie the four-game set with their heated rival with a win tomorrow. For the first time all weekend, not a rookie on the bump. I spent all night dreading the result, dreading how they’d let me down and now I’m kicking myself for not keeping the faith.


Via FanGraphs