That was a good ol’ fashioned ESPN Sunday Night high-scoring four-hour Yankees-Red Sox nail-biter. I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those. The Yankees came out on top this time, walking away with an 8-7 win and a series win overall. That was a pretty great win. Let’s recap:
- Early Hole: David Phelps clearly did not have it. He allowed three runs on four hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the first inning, then another two runs on a single, a homer (Dustin Pedroia), and a walk in the second. Phelps was lifted after putting eight guys on base and throwing 53 pitches to get six outs. It initially appeared he was lifted due to simple ineffectiveness, but we eventually learned he’s dealing with some elbow inflammation. That’s not what the Yankees need right now, even if his ligament is fine.
- Rally Back: Phelps has been good overall this year and was just off his game/hurt on Sunday. Clay Buchholz, on the other hand, has been terrible in 2014. Immediately after his team staked him to a 3-0 lead in the first, he handed it back in the second. Two walks (Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann) and a single (Carlos Beltran) loaded the bases with no outs, then Stephen Drew plated one run with a ground ball back to the pitcher (play developed too slowly to turn two) and Brett Gardner drove in two more with a double to right. The two teams combined for eight runs in the first two innings.
- Rally Back, Again: Phelps allowed the two runs in the second to make it 5-3, though the Yankees cut the deficit to 5-4 when McCann and Drew doubled in the fourth. David Ortiz mashed a two-run tater off Chase Whitley in the bottom half, extending Boston’s lead to 7-4. The half-inning after that, New York knotted the game at seven on a double (Beltran), a walk (McCann), a run-scoring double (Headley), and a two-run single (Drew). The Yankees did a great job answering the Red Sox’s runs in the first and fourth with rallies to tie the next half-inning.
- Power-Hitting Left Fielder: Drew’s two-run single in the fifth gave his new team new life after Ortiz’s blast appeared to put the game to bed. BoSox skipper John Farrell went to lefty Craig Breslow to match up against Brett Gardner, but it didn’t work. Not at all. Gardner clubbed his 15th (15th!) homerun of the season leading off the sixth, giving the Yankees their first lead of the game. It wasn’t a no-doubter, in fact I thought it was going to be caught right until the moment it settled into the bullpen. Fifteen homers for Gardner. How about that? He’s been their best player this year and it’s not close.
- Unsung Hero: Whitley wasn’t very good in his two innings, but holy smokes, unsung hero of the night award goes to Esmil Rogers. He made his Yankees debut in the fifth inning and retired nine of ten batters faced, giving the offense a chance to get back in the game. Rogers struck out three and mowed right through Ortiz, Yoenis Cespedes, and Mike Napoli in the seventh, his third inning of work. The Yankees claimed him off waivers from the Blue Jays earlier this week and this outing alone makes the waiver claim worth it. Anything from here on out is gravy. Great job, Esmil.
- Dellin & Dave: As he tends to do, Dellin Betances generated some hilariously awful swings in his perfect eighth inning, striking out two. David Robertson, on the other hand, did everything in his power to bring Ortiz to the plate one last time. He walked number nine hitter Christian Vazquez on four pitches leading off the inning, but Brock Holt bailed him out by lining into a double play. Pinch-runner Mookie Betts took off with the pitch, which was lined right at Headley. Robertson ran the count full to Pedroia, who swung at balls four, five, and six before grounding out to end the game. Ortiz was left on deck. Hey, not every save is pretty, but a save is a save and a win is a win.
- Leftovers: Gardner drew a walk and was a triple away from the cycle … Beltran (single, double), McCann (double, two walks), and Drew (single, double) all reached base multiple times … the ultra-slumping Jacoby Ellsbury was the only starter who failed to reach base … the bullpen held the Red Sox hitless after the fourth inning … Rogers was the 29th different pitcher to pitch for the Yankees this season, a new franchise record … the Yankees have now played 14 straight games decided by two or fewer runs, extending the franchise record.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles and Royals won while the Blue Jays and Mariners lost, so the Yankees are five games back in the AL East and 1.5 games back of the second wild-card. FanGraphs put their postseason odds at 19.7%. The new look Tigers are coming to the town for a four-game set starting Monday night. Brandon McCarthy and reigning AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer will be the pitching matchup. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.