Can you feel that? That upwards surge is the New York Yankees once again shifting the direction of their season on a dime. One monster blow over the Monster by Giancarlo Stanton was enough to propel the Yankees to a 5-3 victory in Fenway, securing a series victory and creating a tie for the top spot in the Wild Card standings.
The blow came late in the game, with the Yankees threatening to blow the game open for the first time in the eighth inning. A walk to Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge with two outs, followed by Anthony Rizzo taking a pitch to his knee set up a bases-loaded jam with the red-hot Stanton due up. Darwinzon Hernandez had just been called in to face Rizzo, and thus had to pitch to Stanton, which wound up being a massive mistake — he left a fastball over the middle of the plate as his first offering and Stanton never let him throw a second pitch in the at-bat.
Let the boys be boys... SLAM. pic.twitter.com/rtdlOp23EU— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 25, 2021
The dinger shook up what was a quiet night up until that point for the Yankees, and deafened the Fenway crowd in an instant. Stanton’s blast was a historic one, too — only three Yankees have ever hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning or later in Fenway: Joe DiMaggio in 1948, Johnny Blanchard in ‘61, and now Stanton. That’s the kind of performance that swings postseason races, and the Yankees were fortunate to get one tonight.
Prior to the Stanton bomb, the Yankees had been plodding along aimlessly for most of the afternoon. The team had exploded out of the gates offensively on Friday, but Nick Pivetta was keeping everyone except Stanton off the basepaths until the sixth inning. A pair of hits by Gio Urshela and Gardner ended his night, and Hansel Robles invoked the team MVP by throwing a wild pitch with a runner on third to get the Yankees on the scoreboard. They might’ve gotten more, but Gardner was running on a contact play when Judge grounded to third, and Gardner got thrown out at home. Gardner’s out was the Yankees’ 22nd made at home this season, tops in the league.
On the other side, Néstor Cortes Jr. was doing his best to match zeroes with Pivetta. He made one major mistake, leaving a ball over the plate for Kevin Plawecki to swat for a solo home run in the third, but ultimately didn’t pitch poorly. Cortes struggled to give the team length though, and he was pulled in the fifth inning with a pair of baserunners for Michael King. Judge saved Cortes from a bigger deficit earlier in the inning, robbing Bobby Dalbec of a two-run home run to keep the game close, but King did surrender one of those runs on a wild pitch.
Luis Severino was brought in to start the seventh inning, marking his second appearance since returning from Tommy John surgery, and the former ace looked electric again in relief. Severino allowed a walk and a hit-by-pitch in two innings of work, striking out four and showcasing tons of energy on the mound. Severino’s slider and changeup have been sharp despite not getting any rehab appearances before this callup, and he is continuing to build a case for himself as a weapon in the ‘pen late in games.
Aroldis Chapman was tasked with closing out the win, and his outing featured some good and some bad. He started off the inning by getting Kyle Schwarber to ground out, but Dalbec got revenge for his earlier robbed home run. Dalbec took Chapman’s 1-0 slider over the Monster, cutting the Yankee lead to just two. Chapman immediately followed that up by plunking Plawecki to stir some nerves, but he struck out Jose Iglesias and induced a groundout from Enrique Hernandez to end the game without further incident.
The Yankees needed to open this road trip off with immediate success, and they’ve done so. A series win has brought them to a virtual tie with Boston for the first Wild Card, a valuable spot with the Blue Jays and Mariners on their heels, but they need to finish off the sweep to maintain it. Then it’ll be off to Toronto for another massive series — there’s no room to let off the gas.