Game 132: NYY vs. BOS — No lead is ever safe in the rivalry

So basic summary of this afternoon’s finale at Fenway — the Yankees got a really big early lead and the Red Sox spent the rest of the game chipping away at it bit by bit. 12 total pitchers (and thanks to the September call-ups no position players needed), 28 total hits, 10 total walks, and 21 total runs scored. The only inning neither team scored a run in was the 4th.

But the games between the Red Sox and Yankees are anything but “normal” games. Never have been, and that’s what keeps the rivalry alive. Well, that and the passionate/rabid fan bases.

Masahiro Tanaka got the start in today’s rubber match against the Red Sox, and today he had two things going for him — decent pitching and plenty of run-support. Tanaka threw 92 pitches in 6.1 innings, giving up 6 hits, 1 walk, and 4 runs, striking out 5 Boston batters. In the 1st, the Red Sox struck first with a lead-off double that scored on a 2-out ground-rule double. Another lead-off double in the 5th scored on a sacrifice fly. And a lead-off solo home run in the 6th added to the Red Sox’s total. After giving up a 1-out walk in the 7th, the Yankees opted to start the open door of their bullpen.

Before that, the Yankees hit the Red Sox pitching hard. In the 2nd, with 1 out and Headley on base with a walk, Greg Bird hit a 2-run home run to put the Yankees in the lead. John Ryan Murphy’s solo shot into the Green Monster (and right into the hands of some Yankee fans in the 2nd row up there) began the offensive push the Yankees needed. The bases were then loaded with Gregorius’ single, Drew’s double, and Gardner’s walk. Chris Young then singled to score Didi and somehow Gardner got caught in between 2nd and 3rd which was already occupied by Young and Drew respectively, so he was tagged out because there was literally nowhere to go. Alex Rodriguez’s single scored both Drew and Young and forced the starter out of the game in the middle of the 2nd inning. Carlos Beltran promptly hit his own deep Green Monster home run, a 2-run shot to cement the Yankees 8-run 2nd inning and their strong lead in today’s game.

In the 3rd, Bird and Gregorius on base with walks and one out, Stephen Drew’s 3-run home run into the first row of the right field seats pushed the Yankees into double digits. And Didi Gregorius’ 2-out solo home run in the 5th gave the Yankees a decent cushion to fend off the slowly advancing Red Sox, giving them enough to keep and maintain that lead in the end.

Once Tanaka was out of the game and responsible for the runner on 1st in the 7th inning, Andrew Bailey was called on for relief. Bailey has been on the mend from shoulder surgery two years ago and made his return against his old team. It wasn’t really ideal as he promptly loaded the bases with two more walks. A sacrifice fly scored one run and a single scored the other before reliever Justin Wilson got the final out of the 7th in just 3 pitches.

The Yankees fought back in the 8th with Gardner’s lead-off double. And two outs later, he scored on Jose Pirela’s single. (Some of the newest and returning faces as part of the September call-up got some play time in today’s game — Pirela, Noel, Cotham, and Bailey.)

In the bottom of the 8th, the Red Sox took advantage of Bryan Mitchell’s recent struggles, after returning from the DL. Consecutive singles and a wild pitch put runners in scoring position with 1 out. Then two more consecutive singles scored 2 more Red Sox runs. After a walk to load the bases and still just that 1 out, the Yankees called on Dellin Betances to work his magic and stop the Red Sox rally attempt. 11 pitches later, a strikeout and a force ground out and the Yankees were out of a jam and headed into the final 6 outs of the game.

Caleb Cotham got his chance in the 9th but immediately struggled. Consecutive doubles scored the Red Sox’s final run of the evening, and forced Cotham out of the game. And even though there was no save opportunity, they weren’t about to risk losing this game. It was Andrew Miller time — ground out, ground out, walk, and strikeout on that 14th pitch. Game over.

Final score in Boston: 13-8 Yankees, Yankees win series 2-1.

And after tomorrow’s off-day, the Yankee will face all division rivals in a 10-game home stand — Rays, Orioles, and Blue Jays. Expect standings to change drastically after this next week. Should be the start of a very interesting September as we head into the final 30 games of the season. Yes, just 30 left of the regular season.

Go Yankees!

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