It was tight, it was tense, but the Yankees managed to hang onto a 6-5 victory in their first taste of Yankees-Red Sox at Fenway this year. A clash between two of the hottest teams in the American League always promised fireworks, but if the series opener is anything to go off, we could be in for an instant classic midsummer rivalry showdown.
Nestor Cortes has his work cut out for him against a Boston lineup that is among the best in the league at mashing lefties. His first 10 starts had people wondering whether All-Star Game starter was in his grasp, and while his subsequent five starts have removed him from that consideration, there’s no doubting he’s established himself as one of the top starters in the AL. He’s also entering uncharted territory, already having exceeded his previous career-high of 14 games started while sitting 8 innings away from the career-high 93 thrown last year. As he makes his 16th start, Cortes is 7-3 with a 2.44 ERA (155 ERA+), 3.35 FIP, and 91 strikeouts in 85 innings.
Connor Seabold was recently called up from Triple-A to replace the injured Michael Wacha on the active roster. The rookie righty was selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft and was traded to the Red Sox in 2020 as part of the Nick Pivetta deal. He throws a four-seamer in the low-90s, a changeup in the low-80s, and a slider in the mid-80s, all of which carry a whiff rate in excess of 30 percent. He’s 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 11 Triple-A starts totaling 51.2 innings this year, though that hasn’t translated into the majors quite yet. In his first two big league starts, Seabold has given up 8 runs on 15 hits (three home runs) against 11 strikeouts in 8.2 innings.
Aaron Judge is back in the Yankees lineup after resting the first game of the series with lower body soreness, but Anthony Rizzo is still out as he deals with a bit of a back issue (though he’s hopeful he’ll be back tomorrow). Matt Carpenter gets his second start in the outfield — this time in front of the Green Monster in left — allowing Judge to ease back into the lineup at DH, giving Giancarlo Stanton the night off while Marwin Gonzalez spells Isiah Kiner-Falefa at short.
The Yankees have to be encouraged by what they’ve seen lately out of Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks, and Josh Donaldson, as the three had been struggling with slumps of various length. Torres now has three straight multi-hit games and four in his last five after scuffling a bit in the final 10 days of June that saw him go 3-for-28 with a 12 wRC+. Hicks appears to have rediscovered his power stroke — particularly from the left side — and is now seven for his last 17 with two home runs, two doubles, a triple, seven RBI and a 307 wRC+ over the last five games.
Finally, it appears Donaldson has recaptured the form he was showing flashes of before missing two weeks on the IL at the end of May. He had a 123 wRC+ prior to that stint, then went 19-for-95 with depressed walks, elevated strikeouts, and a 64 wRC+ in 25 games after coming off the IL. He now has back-to-back multi-hit games with a home run in each and six RBI, including the grand slam in the series opener against Boston.
If I had one piece of advice for Nasty Nestor, it would be to not let Rafael Devers beat him. Devers accounted for all of the Red Sox offense in the opener, slugging two home runs off Gerrit Cole last night, and is currently tied with Paul Goldschmidt and Manny Machado for the highest fWAR (4.4) in MLB. All of the big bats remain in the Boston lineup while they sub Rob Refsnyder for Jarren Duran in center, Christian Vázquez for Kevin Plawecki at catcher, Bobby Dalbec for Franchy Cordero at first, and Christian Arroyo for Jackie Bradley Jr. in right.
How to watch
Location: Fenway Park — Boston, MA
First pitch: 7:10 pm ET
TV broadcast: Amazon Prime Video, NESN, MLB Network (out-of-market only)
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9, WADO 1380
Online stream: MLB.tv