This game had everything you’d want from the Yankees’ offense. Big home runs, a half-Interstate worth of traffic on the basepaths, some speed, and the starter knocked out after four innings. In the end, though, pitching cost the Yankees a chance at a sweep, with Boston taking the series finale 11-6.
Luke Voit got the offense rolling with a record-breaking home run. In the second inning, following Gary Sanchez’s walk, Voit absolutely crushed a ball more than 400’ into Monument Park. The home run was Voit’s tenth and pushed the Yankees into the record books with their twelfth double-digit home run man, the most in a single season all time.
I was prepared to say that the Yankees should have scored more against Eduardo Rodriguez. He was all over the zone, walking seven Yankees. Luke Voit had his bomb, but it felt like the Yankees should really get more. In the fourth, E-Rod walked three straight with two out, bringing up Giancarlo Stanton:
That’s G. #SeptemberBaseball pic.twitter.com/gIOMcIKERh— MLB (@MLB) September 21, 2018
Go ahead and watch that a few times. We’re about to talk pitching, and you’re going to want something sweet on top of this excrement sandwich.
Masahiro Tanaka was not good, with only a single one-two-three inning, and that came in the fourth. Yeah, it was pretty ugly. He gave up a double to Mookie Betts in the first at-bat of the game, and Betts was knocked in by a JD Martinez single in a 31-pitch first inning. The next inning, Betts was back in the thick of things, as after Tanaka allowed two more baserunners, the possible AL MVP drove both in, making it 3-0 at the time.
The third inning, we thought Tanaka had sharpened up. He retired the first two hitters before Brock Holt – inexplicably the Red Sox’s best hitter this month – deposited a ball into the right field seats. That came after Voit’s home run, so it was 4-2. Tanaka worked the fourth before putting the first two men on in the fifth and getting the hook. Let the Wild Card starter debate intensify.
From there, Aaron Boone went right to the high leverage guys. David Robertson was the first man out, facing Martinez with runners on the corners. D-Rob induced a double play, helped by a nifty Didi Gregorius sliding grab, and struck out Xander Bogaerts. A run came home on the double play, but overall, that’s a heck of an appearance in just about the highest-stress spot a reliever can come in to.
After that, though, Boone got weird. Robertson threw just 12 pitches in his inning, and probably could have gone into the sixth inning. Instead, it was Chad Green’s turn, who struck out the side before giving up a home run leading off the seventh that tied the game. Another runner reached, and Boone went to Dellin Betances.
Long story short, the bases ended up being loaded, and Betances got Bogaerts to fly out. A run scored, but Hicks…did a weird thing with the throw. He didn’t seem to decide where the throw in was going to go until he was in motion and ended up spiking the ball just in front of Miguel Andujar. Hicks threw it too hard, and Andujar did a terrible job of keeping it in front of him. The ball ended up in the seats and the score was 8-6.
Aroldis Chapman saw his first game action since late August, and was about as bad as we all feared he might be. Command was shoddy at best, which was understandable given that he had no real rehab work. And then...Mookie Betts happened. I don’t want to talk about it but he hit a home run and it was bad. 11-6, Red Sox.
There were six other Yankee outs recorded. I found it adorable that the Red Sox brought Craig Kimbrel out for the ninth. He gave up a leadoff triple to Andrew McCutchen, who really is settling in wonderfully as the leadoff hitter on this team, reaching base four times tonight. Stanton got on three times, and Judge, Hicks and Didi Gregorius made it on base twice each.
Tonight sucked, but there’s a lot of positives to come out of this series. This is just the third series the Red Sox have lost since the All-Star break, and I think we know that when healthy the Yankees can hang with them. New York also didn’t cede any ground to the Oakland Athletics; both teams won their home series and the Wild Card lead is 1.5. Tampa’s walkoff loss all but ensured that the Yankees and A’s would be in that single game elimination, as we all have known for the last six weeks or so.
Mostly, I’m bummed because the offense is the most fun part of this team. Scoring 20 runs over the weekend against the Blue Jays and then 20 against Boston should equal better than a 3-3 stretch. Hopefully the bats can stay alive against the Orioles this weekend. I’m also beaten up that I didn’t get to use my planned “Sweep Caroline” headline. Maybe for the ALDS?
The Yankees have a golden opportunity to put Oakland firmly in the rearview mirror, at least as far as a standings chase goes. Baltimore is in town for a three-game set, and New York will look at what’s very much a sweepable series to put the A’s home field hopes on ice.