What a perfect way to spend a warm summer night. Rival players on the field. Rival fans in the stands. The crowd of 42,884 packed the ballpark with enthusiasm that was rewarded with a grand night of Sunday baseball. Boston came into the game leading this series, but tonight it was New York’s time to shine.
Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka gave up a homer to left field in the first inning, which turned out to be the only run allowed for the Red Sox tonight. It was “Tanaka Time” once again. At the end of six innings, Tanaka threw 86 pitches for 7 strikeouts, allowing 3 hits and that lone run.
At the top of the seventh, it was time for the Warriors Three to close out the game, beginning with Dellin Betances to throw 11 pitches (9 of which were strikes) to retire three in a row. Warrior #2, Andrew Miller, took command of the mound in the 8th, allowing a walk but no runs. And Aroldis Chapman, the third Warrior, earned his 18th save with his lightning pitches, throwing 13 pitches, giving up one walk and (of course) no runs as well.
Yankee defense worked to prevent runs, while Yankee bats had the primary goal of putting runs on the board. And (maybe rather surprisingly this season) that they did. Top of the second, Gregorius scooped up a grounder for the throw to Refsnyder on 1st for the out.
At the bottom of the fourth inning and down by 1, New York began to shine. With Didi Gregorius on first with a single, Starlin Castro hit a double to deep left field while Gregorius made a lightning fast run for home and beat the tag to tie up the game. Austin Romine hit a RBI single that bounced off the glove of the second baseman and shot into center field allowing Castro to score. A base hit by Gardner to center, and the Yankees had runners on base. The fans erupted into “Let’s Go Yankees!” as Jacoby Ellsbury came up to the plate and promptly slammed a RBI single to center and Romine scored on an overthrow to home. And the Yankees were up by 2.
The crowd noise level rose by several decibels as if to declare that this is what a Yankee game looks like! But the offense began to stall some. Gregorius doubled in the bottom of the fifth, but was left stranded. And with 2 outs in the sixth, Gardner and Ellsbury singled putting the Yankees in scoring position, but a pitching change for Boston quickly ended the inning. Bottom of the eighth, and on base with a single, Gardner stole second base, recording his 13th steal of the season.
The Yankee defense was back at it though. At the top of the seventh, Ellsbury ran down a ball hit to the center field wall for the out. With Chapman on the mound and the Yankees in the lead in the ninth, a double play orchestrated by Castro to Gregorius to Refsnyder (at 1st today) ended the game.
Final score:3-1 Yankees, Red Sox win the series 2-1.
Injury update: Mark Teixeira was not in the line-up tonight after he hit a foul ball directly into his left ankle last night. Expecting a CT scan to show a serious issue, Teixeira was amazed and grateful that, while the ankle was obviously sore, the tests showed no serious damage. Good news since he has had more than his share of injuries lately. Hoping the rest of the season is injury-free for Tex.
The trade deadline draws near (it’s July 31): The Yankees are struggling to pull themselves up in the standings as the team finds itself farther behind in the win column than expected at this point in July. The win over rival Boston tonight was encouraging, even being called a “must win”. The Yankees have so much ability packed into their roster, and while there is concern voiced by management, there is also a positive attitude that this team has the perseverance and skill to overcome this slump and make a run for October. The next several days will be interesting as management and owners watch the team’s progress to decide if they will be selling or buying as the trade deadline nears.
And what doesn’t help is all the rumors and chatter that people seem to think they can predict what the Yankees (and every other team) will do by the end of the month. Of course, we all know that popular saying (thanks in part to John Sterling): “you can’t predict baseball”. But when I think back at the trade deadline in the last few years, the Yankees got a few key (and completely unexpected) players — Chase Headley, Alfonso Soriano, and Ichiro Suzuki. So, unpredictability can be a good thing sometimes.