Neil Walker belted a three-run homer in the seventh inning to power the Yankees to a come-from-behind win against the Red Sox tonight at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees only mustered three hits, but they received outstanding pitching and survived a nerve-wracking ninth inning to defeat their rivals 3-2.
Although it was a great Yankees victory, the best part of this contest had nothing to do with the actual game. Aaron Judge made his triumphant return to the lineup today, after taking around 20 at-bats during a pair of sim games yesterday and earlier this afternoon. Judge entered Friday’s win against Toronto in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement in right field, but today marked his first time batting in a game since going on the DL with a broken wrist on July 26th.
Judge was greeted with a standing ovation as he stepped into the batter’s box for his first plate appearance in the home half of the first. He lined out to right, grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in the third, hit a long fly which was caught in the right-field corner in the sixth, and struck out swinging in the eighth. But his performance matters not. We should expect it to take some time for All Rise to get his timing back. The important thing is, Judge is FINALLY back in the lineup!
Boston took a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Ian Kinsler lined a single to left field, and moved to second when Yankees starter J.A. Happ balked. After Steve Pearce walked, a Gary Sanchez passed ball allowed both runners to move up. J.D. Martinez then knocked in the run with a medium-depth sacrifice fly to the opposite field. Happ escaped further damage by inducing the next two hitters to fly out.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi hurled eight shutout frames against the Bombers at Fenway on August 4th during the infamous four-game sweep. The ex-Yankee hadn’t produced a quality start since, failing to complete four innings during any of his three most recent outings. Eovaldi had pitched so poorly that he was actually removed from Boston’s rotation. His most recent appearance on September 11th came out of the bullpen.
The Yankees’ recent offensive inconsistency continued, as they made the struggling Eovaldi look like Greg Maddux in his prime today. They worked a few deep counts, but failed to drive up his pitch count. The Bombers ultimately managed only a pair of walks and one measly hit through five innings off the right-hander.
New York threatened in the sixth. Gleyber Torres led off by lining a double to left. After Andrew McCutchen lined out, Judge flied out deep into the right-field corner, moving the tying run to third. Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch, but Giancarlo Stanton struck out swinging to kill the potential rally.
Eovaldi’s tightrope walk in the sixth ended his night, as Red Sox skipper Alex Cora went to Brandon Workman to start the seventh. The move worked out magnificently for the Yankees, who finally broke through.
Workman threw three straight balls to Aaron Hicks, who ended up walking on five pitches. Miguel Andujar popped out, and Hicks stole second with Sanchez batting. Sanchez walked on a 3-2 knuckle curve in the dirt, and Boston went to the bullpen again.
Cora somewhat inexplicably brought in right-hander Ryan Brasier, which allowed the switch-hitting Walker to bat from his strong side. Walker made the Red Sox pay for the mistake, crushing a 3-2 slider for a no-doubt homer that landed in the second deck in right field. The 382-foot blast by Walker was his 10th of the year, making the Yankees just the fifth team in MLB history to boast eleven players with double-digit home run tallies. Walker’s last four homers gave the Yankees the lead, with the last three coming in the seventh inning or later.
New York received outstanding pitching from a quartet of hurlers against Boston’s potent lineup. Happ allowed only one unearned run over six innings, Chad Green pitched a perfect seventh to earn his eighth win, and David Robertson threw a scoreless eighth to claim his 19th hold. The Bombers are now 8-1 in games started by Happ.
Boston scored a run on a walk and two errors in the ninth, but Zach Britton hung on to earn his second save as a Yankee. After two straight botched double-play opportunities, the Yankees finally capitalized on their third chance, with Kinsler grounding into a 1-4-3 double play to end the game.
With the win, the Yankees snap a two-game losing streak and improve their record to 92-58. They succeed in preventing Boston from clinching the AL East title on their home turf, while temporarily extending their lead over the Athletics to two full games in the race for the top Wild Card berth. Oakland hosts the Angels tonight in late West Coast action, so the Yankees’ lead could increase to 2.5 games with an Athletics loss, or see it shrink back to 1.5 if the A’s win.
Join us tomorrow, as Luis Severino (17-8, 3.46 ERA) faces off against left-hander David Price (15-6, 3.42 ERA). First pitch is 7:05 PM EDT.