Sunday, August 5, 2018

Game 112: New York Yankees at Red Sox (August 4, 2018)

In the first game of this series the Red Sox outslugged the Yankees and in the second game they outpitched them. What could they possibly do to top either of those in this third game? Having earned at least a split in this series, Boston was looking to win the third game and really put a stranglehold on the division. Due to forcing New York to use their scheduled starter (Luis Cessa) during the first game disaster, the Yankees were forced to turn to minor league call-up Chance Adams in the match up against Nathan Eovaldi and the Red Sox. As expected, this game was all Boston although it did get more than a bit hairy toward the end before balance was restored and dominance was reasserted.

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Mitch Moreland hit his thirteenth home run of the season (with Andrew Benintendi on base) in the bottom of the first inning to help the Sox jump ahead quickly 2-0. JD Martinez got in on the act later in the fourth when he smacked his league leading 33rd homer to make it 3-0. Boston tacked on another run in the seventh when Sandy Leon's ground rule double pushed Eduardo Nunez across. With the way Eovaldi was pitching, that looked like it would be more than enough. Perhaps inspired by Rick Porcello's performance the night before, he went eight innings and only gave up three hits and one walk, striking out four. He did it all on 93 pitches and I'll admit I was a bit surprised when Alex Cora brought Craig Kimbrel in for the ninth instead of letting Eovaldi finish the game. It almost cost them dearly as Kimbrel's control issues perhaps reached their nadir this season. After getting two quick outs, he gave up back to back doubles to Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorious to blow the shutout and keep the Yankees alive. He followed this up with consecutive walks to load the bases and put the go-ahead run at the plate. It was absolutely maddening to watch and you could hear the tension rising among the fans at Fenway Park. Luckily, he was able to get Greg Bird to hit into the final out to preserve the win. I don't know what's wrong with Kimbrel this season, but it's been concerning to me all season and it almost cost them the game here. He's still one of the top closers in the game, but he's been very erratic at times and hasn't been as dominant as he's been in years past. It's something that hopefully won't cost them games when it matters most (see: October) but for now, consider me officially concerned.

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Setting aside that angst, a win is a win and there was a lot to be encouraged by in this game. Eovaldi again gave the team a great start and has proven (so far) to have been a shrewd acquisition and some much needed stability at the back end of the rotation. The Sox have won each of these first three games against the Yankees in different ways which shows off their depth and versatility. Most importantly, the win pushed Boston's division lead to a season high 8.5 games. Heading into this series, I was hoping for a split at worst and taking three of four in a best case scenario. Now, I'm greedy and want the sweep. The final game pits Masahiro Tanaka against David Price. As we all know, Price has been awful against the Yankees (and especially at Yankee Stadium). I'll be looking for him to have a good start in front of a raucous home crowd where he can hopefully exorcise some of his big game demons. There's no better place to do that against the Yankees than at home in Fenway Park. If he can't win a game against them there, he won't beat them anywhere. We shall see...

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