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Yankees 13, Red Sox 2: Big fourth inning finishes terrific first half

Gerrit Cole was terrific and the bats exploded as the Yankees took the rubber match with the Red Sox.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

There are three main storylines from today’s game: The Yankee offense continuing its rejuvenation after a bit of a cold spell, Chris Sale leaving the game with a gnarly injury, and Gerrit Cole’s dominance of a lineup that gave him a bit of trouble last week. All in all, those three stories came together in a 13-2 blowout as the Yankees closed out the first half of the season with a commanding win over the Red Sox.

Let’s start with Sale, who was making only his second appearance of the season, and just his tenth since August of 2019. He didn’t look great from the word go, as DJ LeMahieu led off with a ringing double to right, and the lefty then hit Aaron Judge to put the first two men on. Sale was able to retire Anthony Rizzo, and got a soft groundball from Gleyber Torres. However, Rafael Devers’ errant throw home trying to cut down LeMahieu went all the way to the screen, and the Yankees were ahead, 1-0.

Matt Carpenter, the single greatest baseball player of all time, followed up with an RBI single, and then Aaron Hicks lined a ball 106.7 mph back to the mound that hit Sale’s left hand. I’m not going to post the video because it’s quite nasty, but Sale immediately walked off the field, and the Sox announced that he broke his left pinky. No timetable has been discussed for his return, but Boston was counting on him to help pull them into a more established playoff position and perhaps a little more out of the hole that they find themselves in in the AL East. Instead, that chasm only grew deeper today.

Sale’s early exit meant that Red Sox manager Alex Cora was forced to deploy a plethora of relief pitchers, with nine different guys taking the mound. Hirokazu Sawamura was the only one who really worked well, albeit so slowly that it’s possible he just put the Yankee hitters to sleep. Ryan Brasier and Jake Diekman bore the brunt of the Yankee offense, giving up four runs apiece in the eight-run fourth.

LeMahieu, Judge, Carpenter and Hicks all had run-scoring hits in the frame, with Carp’s a two-run double with the bases loaded. The recently-recalled Tim Locastro capped off the inning with a long home run, after having started the festivities with a single and stolen base.

Joey Gallo, coming into the game as a late replacement for Judge, also added a two-run shot in the seventh to close out the scoring.

So we’ve covered Sale and the New York offense, but Cole really might be the center of today’s game. He started off strong, brushing Devers off the plate with an inside fastball below the belt — just enough to establish inside, but no risk of hitting Devers or causing injury. It was a statement pitch, and one that set the tone for the rest of the start.

The end result: 20 whiffs, 12 K’s, and no walks. Cole threw seven innings, with just one bad pitch, a slider at the belt that rookie Jeter Downs took to the left field seats for his first career home run. As discussed in the game thread, keeping the ball in the park is the biggest concern for Cole lately, but any time you have a 12:0 K:BB ratio, you’re going to be in a good position to win the game.

Although Cole made the All-Star team, he won’t pitch in the Midsummer Classic, but despite his home run troubles this season, he enters the break with a 3.02 ERA and 26.2 percent K-BB% — ace-level performance. Yankee fans really should have no concerns about him as we enter the unofficial second half of the season.

This month has been a bit of a slog for the Yankees, but they finished the first half on a high note with a series victory over Boston. New York now sits 64-28, a full 36 games over .500 and 13 ahead of second-place Tampa Bay. Toronto is in third at 14.5 behind, and Boston is fourth at a distant 16.5.

The Yankees won’t get the full benefit of the All-Star break, though. Due to the postponement of the first week of the season caused by the owners’ lockout, the Yankees will play a make-up doubleheader on Thursday down in Houston. They’ll be one of just eight teams in action so soon. Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon will be starting those two games, with the matinee kicking off at 1:10pm Eastern.

In the meantime, follow along with us for MLB Draft coverage! The Yankees will make their first and second-round picks tonight, and the remaining 18 selections will come on Monday and Tuesday.

Box Score