The Yankees entered Fenway Park on Friday night trying to secure home-field advantage for the Wild Card Game. They left having not only accomplished that, but rewriting the history books in the process. On a record matching night, the club beat the Red Sox by a score of 11-6.
Brian Johnson retired the Yankees in order on seven pitches in the first inning. Then he held them hitless in the second frame. Johnson ran out of tricks in the third inning, however, as the Bombers tagged him for two runs on three hits. The first came in the form of a blast off the bat of Gary Sanchez, a shot that cleared the Green Monster and took aim at Lansdowne Street.
The second run came via some old-fashioned baseball. Aaron Judge worked a two-out walk, before advancing to second on an Aaron Hicks single. Giancarlo Stanton then knocked an RBI single to plate Judge, and the Yankees were ahead 2-0.
Johnson departed from the game following that inning, as William Cuevas pitched the fourth. The Yankees didn’t seem to mind, as they added five more runs on the frame. Miguel Andujar got things started with a one-out double, his 44th on the season. That tied Joe DiMaggio for most doubles as a Yankees rookie — pretty good company, right? Sanchez then walked before Gleyber Torres unleashed a rocket two-run double off the Monster. A few inches higher and it would have been a three-run homer.
Andrew McCutchen followed with an RBI single of his own, scoring Torres on an awkward slide. The rookie had a terrible slide into second base on his double, so please, please learn how to not slide headfirst Gleyber. Anyway, Judge collected a single before Hicks notched a two-run homer to give the Yankees an 8-0 lead. He didn’t think he got all of it, as the center fielder dropped his head and acted like he lifted a fly ball out. Fantastic.
J.A. Happ, meanwhile, pitched far better than his line indicates. He made one really bad mistake, and that was pitching to Steve Pearce. The 35-year-old has tormented the Yankees all year long, and he continued that trend by launching a sixth inning grand slam. That made it 8-4, Bombers.
He finished the night having allowed four runs on four hits over six innings. He struck out seven and walked two. The veteran left-handed looked razor sharp for the first five innings, so I’m not too worried about it. He’s been rock solid and ran into some bad luck in the sixth. Just never pitch to Pearce again.
The Bombers answered right back, however, with two runs in the seventh. Luke Voit continued his ridiculous stretch run with a solo homer off Drew Pomeranz. That was his 14th homer on the year, and 13th since joining the Bombers. A Xander Bogaerts error on a Sanchez fielder’s choice allowed Didi Gregorius to score, making it a 10-8 ballgame.
Then history unfolded once again, this time in the eighth inning. Judge clubbed a solo homer, his first since returning from the disabled list, to tie the MLB all-time team home run record. The Bombers were four dingers out with three to play, and they hit them all in one game!
The bullpen made things unnecessarily complicated in the late innings. Dellin Betances took over in the eighth, and he allowed a run on a Pearce single, because of course he did. The Yankees just let him torment them, apparently. He then faced a bases loaded situation, but thankfully escaped the jam.
Zach Britton worked the ninth, and he wasn’t so lucky. He battled control and poor defensive miscues, to the point of loading the bases. He walked in a run, but managed to record the final out. Hopefully he got that out of his system before the Wild Card Game.
With home-field advantage secured, the Yankees will probably begin to rest for the Wild Card Game tomorrow. They have two games to reach 100 wins and to set a new single-season team home run record. Tomorrow it will be Lance Lynn against Nathan Eovaldi, with first pitch at 1:05 PM.