Friday, August 3, 2018

Game 110: New York Yankees at Red Sox (August 2, 2018)

Hey Brian Cashman, how's that for damage? For those of you who aren't aware, earlier this week the Yankees GM said that he wondered what the Red Sox record would be if they hadn't played the Yankees because they're the only team who has "done some damage" against Boston. I guess the fact that the Yankees were 5-4 (with six of those games in New York) thus far against Boston with a negative run differential counts as "damage" in his mind. Also, we're finally in August...can you believe it? This is where the season really begins; from here on out, every game counts and the pennant races heat up as we hurtle toward the end of the season. October baseball is just around the corner and it doesn't get any better than a late season series between these two teams when both are having great years. There was a little bit of trepidation on my part heading into the game since Chris Sale, who was due to start, is on the DL. In his place was Brian Johnson and while he's done an acceptable job holding down the fifth spot in the rotation, I didn't exactly want to see him pitching in a big game like this. My worst fears seemed to have been borne out in the early innings, but the faith of Red Sox Nation was rewarded the longer the game went on.

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When Didi Gregorius launched a three run homer in the top of the first to give the Yankees a quick 3-0 lead, it seemed like it was going to be one of those games. Aaron Hicks added a run to their lead with a solo shot in the second and while it wasn't that surprising that Johnson was getting rocked, it was pretty disheartening. In the bottom of the second, Mookie Betts walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run and Steve Pearce hit a solo homer in the third to cut the New York lead in half. That was enough to knock CC Sabathia out of the game and by then it just felt like the momentum was shifting in Boston's favor. I turned to my oldest daughter and told her I had a feeling the Sox were going to come back; it all came to fruition in the fourth inning. The Sox exploded for eight runs starting with a fielder's choice from Andrew Benintendi where Jackie Bradley made one of most incredible slides into home I've ever seen. How he evaded that tag I don't know, but that put the Sox within a run and from there the rout began. Steve Pearce hit his second homer of the night, a three run shot to give Boston their first lead of the game and they never looked back. An RBI single from Ian Kinsler, RBI doubles from Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley, and an RBI single from Benintendi finished off the scoring in that inning and once everyone caught their breaths it was 10-4 Red Sox. The Yankees added a few more runs here and there: Didi Gregorious hit a solo shot in the fifth, Giancarlo Stanton hit his own in the seventh (and added a sacrifice fly in the ninth), but the Yankees never got close or seriously threatened. Boston added five more runs off of Kinsler's RBI double in the fifth, Benintendi's RBI double and Steve Pearce's third home run of the game (of the two run variety), both in the sixth, and JD Martinez' RBI single in the eighth. It all added up to a 15-7 win for the Red Sox (and they outhit New York 19-8). Normally in games like this I always ask the Sox to save some runs for the next game, but when it's against the Yankees I want them to embarrass and humiliate them as much as possible so I loved the rout.

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Mookie had a monster night, going 4-4 with three runs scored, two walks, and an RBI. Benintendi went 3-6 with three RBI and two runs scored, and Kinsler continued to show in only his third game with the Sox that he was a great acquisition by going 3-6 with two RBI and two runs scored (plus two incredible defensive plays in the seventh).  The real star of the night was Pearce, who went 3-5 with three home runs, three runs scored, and six RBI. Also, Brian Johnson needs to mentioned: after his shaky start, he settled down and stymied the Yankees. He only pitched five innings and yes, he gave up four runs on two homers, but he also struck out eleven and only walked two. He did what was asked of him in the absence of Chris Sale which was to keep it close and give the bats a chance and it paid off. Brandon Workman (again, only getting Cora's trust in a blowout win or loss) gave up a run in his two innings of work but was otherwise fine, as were Joe Kelly and Ryan Brasier.

The bottom line is not only did the Red Sox survive without Chris Sale, they routed the Yankees and extended their division lead to 6.5 games. Game two looks to be a stellar pitching matchup pitting Luis Severino (14-4) against Rick Porcello (13-4). While Severino shut down the Sox last time they faced him, he's also had some bad outings against them. As long as Boston keeps hitting like they did in the first game, they should be just fine. 

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