“In order for there to be a real rivalry, both teams have to be good. We can talk all we want about [the good old days]. But the fact is this is not the best vintage of Red Sox-Yankees rivalry days. Now, it doesn’t mean that the games aren’t compelling. Especially for a Yankee team that has a 5 1/2 game lead on top of the division as we speak. [And a 13 game lead over the Red Sox before the game.] But these are not the halcyon days of Red Sox-Yankees…” (Matt Vasgersian, MLB Network broadcaster)
Usually, it doesn’t matter which team is on top and which team is dragging through the sludge that is the bottom of the AL East, as the Red Sox-Yankees games are usually the most interesting games of the season. And there was one point that was consistent with that — the Red Sox’s starter was making his MLB debut (with his parents in a front row seat in from California) and really did a great job, despite ending up with the loss. (More below.)
Masahiro Tanaka got the start for the first game in this mid-week rivalry series. Tanaka was in rather fine form once again, earning his 8th win of the season. He threw 88 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 5 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, striking out 3 Boston batters. Tanaka got a good start with a 7-pitch 1-2-3 1st inning and then gave the Red Sox quite a time. His weakest inning was his 5th — with 1 out and 2 runners on base, a single scored the first and a sacrifice fly the second to give the Red Sox a small lead. They added their final run with a solo home run to lead off the 7th inning. (By the way, the Bleacher Creatures threw the ball back, as is custom for rivals’ home run balls, unless you are that rival fan or a child or will give the ball to a child at the game.)
That was all for Tanaka, as the Yankees went to their bullpen to bring in Justin Wilson. Wilson got the first two outs of the inning and took a batter to a 1-2 count before he was pulled for Dellin Betances. Despite what you may believe, a manager can pull a pitcher at any point during the game, whether in the middle of an at-bat or between batters (as usual) or between innings (also usual). While it isn’t common here in the US, it is common elsewhere in the world, like Japan and other Asian pro-teams.
Betances unfortunately walked that batter before getting the next batter with a strikeout. Branden Pinder would take over in the 8th, throw a quick 9 pitches to keep the Red Sox hitless and scoreless for an inning before Nick Rumbelow finished them off in the 9th.
Now, the Red Sox pitching vs. the Yankees offense. First, let me acknowledge that the Red Sox starter did a really great job, even leaving the game in the lead. He just didn’t have the team to really back him up and help him out of trouble. Because this isn’t the Red Sox team we’re used to seeing.
The Yankees struck first in the 1st inning. With 1 out and Young and Rodriguez on base, Mark Teixeira’s single scored Young. The Yankees kept that lead until the Red Sox pushed ahead with their 2 runs scored in the 5th. So, going into the 6th, the Red Sox were up 2-1. Young led-off with a single and Rodriguez doubled, and that was it for the young rookie starter. He exited the game in the lead, hopeful his relievers could keep that for him, but those runners were his responsibility.
Teixeira singled, scoring Young, and Brian McCann doubled to score Rodriguez. That put the Yankees back in the lead and blew the win for the Red Sox starter, putting him on the hook for the loss. Beltran hit into a ground out, but scored Teixeira to further the Yankees’ lead. An out and a walk later, the Red Sox changed pitchers again to get the final out of the 6th.
The 7th inning would really be the game-maker. To lead off the inning, Ellsbury reached on a throwing error and Young walked. Alex Rodriguez singled and scored Ellsbury, and the Red Sox made yet another pitching change so Teixeira could strike out and get the first out of the inning. Brian McCann hit a monster 400-foot 3-run home run (his 18th of the season) into the 2nd deck over right field, and the Yankee lead was blown wide open. Beltran doubled and then scored on Chase Headley’s double. A fly out got the second out of the inning and Ryan walked. And it’s back to the top of the batting order as Jacoby Ellsbury singled and scored Headley. And the Red Sox? Another pitching change. So Chris Young answered with his 13th home run of the season, a 3-run homer to left field. (By the way, Teixeira struck out for a second time in this inning, making him and Gregorius the only Yankees to not get on base that inning.) That’s 9 runs scored in the 7th inning. That would be it for the scoring, but the damage, the devastation was done.
Every Yankee starting player made it on base at least once, and all but Gregorius scored a run in tonight’s run-a-palooza. Of the 13 runs the Yankees scored, technically only 9 were earned, which means that the defense made a lot of errors.
Two outstanding offensive leaders tonight were easily Chris Young and Alex Rodriguez. Young went 3-for-4 (including that 3-run bomb in the 7th) with a walk, 4 runs scored, and 3 RBIs; Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with 2 walks, 2 runs scores, and an RBI. Young continues to be just stellar against left-handed pitchers, as his offensive streak is getting him lots of due recognition.
Final score: 13-3 Yankees. (Fun fact: the Yankees have scored 90 runs in their last 10 games. The last team to do that? The 2007 New York Yankees.)
Roster moves and injury updates: just after the game, the Yankees sent Nick Rumbelow back to AAA to make room for Luis Severino who is scheduled to start for the Yankees tomorrow night in his MLB debut. The Yankees are expecting to make Severino a big part of their starting rotation. And don’t expect that to be the last you’ve seen of Rumbelow, as he continues to be a great help to the Yankees’ bullpen whenever called up.
Okay, so he played just 2 games with the Yankees, and now he’s on the DL list. Dustin Ackley was healthy coming over from the Mariners, but after an MRI Monday, Ackely was diagnosed with right lumbar strain, essentially he pulled his lower back muscles. But the MRI also found a herniated disk. With an epidural for pain management, the Yankees hope a stint on the 15-day DL will help him heal fairly naturally and won’t require surgery. The Yankees called up reliever Caleb Cotham to fill Ackley’s 25-man spot, and they expect Ackley to be back by September (unless surgery becomes necessary). Finger crossed.
Mason Williams injured his shoulder diving back to 1st base in a game on June 19, was placed on the 15-day DL on June 21 (retroactive to June 20), and moved from the 15-day DL to 60-day DL on July 11. Today, the Yankees announced he would need surgery to repair the damage after attempts to rest and rehab it haven’t been successful. This option will end his season, but not his career. We should see him again come Spring Training. We wish him the best of luck and health! (All corresponding roster moves have been made for Williams on his moves to the two disabled lists.)
Tomorrow should be interesting. Or at least, I hope it will. You just never know.