Every year, the Yankees and Red Sox face off as division rivals multiple times. This year, both teams get 3 chances to host the other, facing off 19 times in total, as per the rules. Since 2013, MLB dictates that division rivals must face off 19 times over the season, 6-7 times against other teams in their league (AL or NL) and 20 times against teams in the other league (AL vs. NL). We’re on Game 2 vs. the Red Sox of 19 times this season, and the rivalry, for all intents and purposes, is so far from dead.
Masahiro Tanaka got the start in tonight’s middle game of the series in Boston. He threw 83 pitches in his 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, and striking out just 3 batters. However, Tanaka bookended his outing with his bad moments. Because leaving out the 1st and 5th innings, Tanaka was on fire, just plowing through the Red Sox line up.
In the 1st, after 2 quick outs, Tanaka gave up a solo home run to get the Red Sox on the board. A single, wild pitch, and walk seemed to indicate he was rattled, but he pulled it together and began the really good part of his outing, getting 10 straight outs really efficiently. But in the 5th, he gave up a single that moved to 2nd on a 1-out single and then scored on a double. After another out, he gave up a walk to load up the bases. But then a lingering pitch was served straight up the middle for a grand slam home run to boost the Red Sox’s score. (Which probably should’ve been the big story of the game, but this is no ordinary game.)
Fortunately, the Yankees’ relievers initially were much cleaner in their outings. Chad Green had a pretty solid 2 innings in the 6th and 7th, and David Robertson commanded his 8th inning, both keeping the Red Sox from adding to their score. Aroldis Chapman, however, struggled his way through the 9th, giving up a single that ended up at 3rd on a double. Two outs later, Chapman’s wild pitch allowed both runners to move up and thus one to score another run. But a nice strike out ended that inning.
And in any other game, 7 allowed runs might be a huge problem. But the Yankees weren’t about to allow another repeat of yesterday’s messy game, and instead created one of their own. In the 1st, the Yankees took advantage of the Red Sox’s starter having a bad night. Gardner led-off with a single and Judge worked a walk, and they both scored on Giancarlo Stanton’s big triple. 1 out later, Gary Sanchez hit a 2-run Green Monster home run to give the Yankees a very early lead.
In the 3rd, Sanchez led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Walker’s single, and then scored on Tyler Austin’s single. Tyler Wade bunted into a fielder’s choice for the out at 2nd, which ultimately reignited the rivalry. (More after the recap.) A quick double play ended further hope to add to their score. At least in that inning. In the 4th, Gardner and Judge hit consecutive singles, and Gardner took 3rd on a long fly out. He then scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly. Judge scored on Gary Sanchez’s second Green Monster 2-run home run of the game.
And in the 6th, Gardner led-off with a walk, stole 2nd but ended up at 3rd on a throwing error, and then scored on Stanton’s single. Stanton then took 2nd and 3rd on 2 wild pitches before scoring on Gregorius’ sacrifice fly to cap off the Yankees’ scoring today.
Final score: 10-7 Yankees
Brawl in Fenway: okay, so that brief mention of a scuffle in the 3rd was the first sign of issues. Tyler Austin slid into 2nd with a bit too much gusto and ended up kind of spiking the short stop in the ankle (he’s fine, by the way, and stayed in the entire game without injury). Well, benches cleared, and the situation was handled quickly. The umpires had a bit of a rules check to make sure the slide wasn’t malicious in intent (which could result in an automatic double play). It wasn’t, so the game went on.
Things were just fine. Both teams playing hard and wanting to win. The Red Sox wanting to extend their win streak to 10 game, the Yankees needing to even out their own win-loss record. And then the 7th inning… With 1 out, the new reliever took 4 pitches and drilled Tyler Austin in the back. Austin spiked his bat in anger. He knew it was intentional. When the pitcher started yelling at him, Austin threw off his helmet and charged the mound. More empty benches.
It took some time to settle down all the tempers and sort things out. In the end, the reliever was ejected, joined by Austin as the two primary instigators in the incident (as usual). And for reasons I’m still not quite sure, 3rd base coach Phil Nevin and Tommy Kahnle joined Austin in the clubhouse for the rest of the game. Later, Kahnle said he didn’t like how an umpire shoved him out of the way and told him so, so the umpire ejected him for “disrespect”. Nevin’s ejection is much more of mystery, but I suppose it’s probably closer to Kahnle’s than Austin’s.
Now, following the game, the reliever said that it wasn’t intentional and the pitch “just got away from him”, but his teammate who got spiked in the 3rd said he was proud and felt “protected” by the reliever’s “actions” in the 7th. You can be the judge when you watch the clip, but the incident is far to close to the Dempster-Rodriguez hit-by-pitch incident in 2013 and drew a lot of comparisons online. (By the way, despite mirroring tonight’s standard line of “it got away from me”, now-retired pitcher Ryan Dempster later admitted in 2016 he totally intended to hit Alex Rodriguez that game.)
Like I said, you be the judge. Either way, the game is messy anyway, and there’s far too many injuries in a single season. It’s not cool to injure someone intentionally, either with spikes (as the Red Sox say Austin did) or with a pitch to the back (as the Yankees say Kelly did). The sides will fall along “party lines” as they always do, but now that this game is over, let’s close the page on today and start tomorrow fresh. They’re will be plenty more games (17 actually) to get the best revenge — winning more games than your opponent. Don’t stoop low to “even the score”, go high, be classy, and just be the better team and win.