A midsummer rivalry matchup between two of the hottest teams in the American League promised excitement throughout, and the first two games of the series have certainly provided the fireworks. Last night, it was the long ball and the high-leverage relievers who got it done; tonight, it was small ball and the less-heralded bullpen arms that powered the Yankees to a 12-5 victory.
The Yankees jumped all over rookie starter Connor Seabold in the first. There seemed to be an added level of focus up and down the Yankees lineup to not offer at pitches just out of the zone, forcing the inexperienced righty with non-overwhelming stuff to come to them. DJ LeMahieu led off with a single and came around to score on a Gleyber Torres single. Josh Donaldson provided the big blow in the first — a towering three-run shot over the monster, his third home run in as many games.
It’s a good thing the Yankees hitters spotted Nestor Cortes a 4-0 first inning lead because he was far from his sharpest on Friday night. He gave back two of those runs in the bottom of the first, allowing Rob Refsnyder and J.D. Martinez to reach on singles before Christian Vázquez drove in the pair with a two-out double.
The Yankees grabbed one of those runs back in the second thanks to another LeMahieu single before Matt Carpenter drove him home on a double off the Monster.
Things got really wacky in the third. Aaron Hicks led off with a walk, followed by a Jose Trevino double to put men on second and third with no outs. Joey Gallo lifted one to right that looked like it would be his third career sac fly. However, Christian Arroyo never saw the ball, which landed a good 25 feet behind the Boston right fielder. Hicks and Trevino scored easily and Gallo was thrown out at home trying to stretch out an inside-the-parker. Still, the two-run triple extended the Yankees lead to 7-2.
Carpenter continued his Bondsian revenge tour, clubbing his ninth home run of the season to lead off the fourth. That’s now 9 of his first 16 hits in pinstripes to leave the yard. Just nuts!
Things didn’t get any prettier for Cortes in the bottom of the frame. Trevor Story led off with a home run, and two batters later, Bobby Dalbec added his own solo shot to make it 9-4, Yankees. After surrendering a further double and walk, manager Aaron Boone had seen enough, pulling Cortes for Miguel Castro. The right-hander loaded the bases by plunking Xander Bogaerts, but left all three ducks on the pond with a clutch strikeout of Vázquez on a nasty 3-2 slider.
This was hardly the outing the Yankees were hoping for out of Cortes, especially after spotting him nine runs in the first four innings. Seven of the eight hits came against either four-seamers not fast enough to beat righties inside or on offspeed pitches that missed over the heart of the plate.
That’s also now nine home runs that Cortes has given up in his last 28.2 innings after surrendering just 4 in his first 60 frames. He’s already passed his career-high in starts and is an outing away from a career-high in innings. His next few starts should tells us how much that is playing a factor in his slump. Cortes’ final line: 3.2 innings, eight hits, four runs, two walks, and four strikeouts on 73 pitches.
Albert Abreu made things interesting in the sixth, giving up three singles and a run before getting yanked for Lucas Luetge. The southpaw walked Alex Verdugo to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate, but induced a Story popup to strand all three and keep the score at 9-5. He would also strike out the side in the seventh and retire the eighth on 10 pitches.
The Yankees added insurance runs in each of the seventh, eighth, and ninth. The first came on a Marwin Gonzalez safety squeeze to plate Hicks, who had led off with a single. In the eighth, Carpenter pulled a singled to right for his third hit of the game before being doubled home by Torres to give the second baseman a three-hit night of his own.
In the ninth, the Red Sox turned to Jackie Bradley Jr. to pitch, and he walked in a run to grow the Yankees’ lead to 12-5. That’s where the score would stay.
Luetge earned the opportunity to close this game out and did so without issue, capping off a massively valuable 3.1-inning save on a night when the starter exited early. The 12-5 victory is the Yankees’ league-leading 14th game scoring double-digits after managing just six such efforts all of last season. With the Rays’ loss, the Yankees are now 15.5 games up in the AL East and 16 up on the Red Sox (Toronto is tied with Boston and still playing at the moment).
New York will look to guarantee at least a series victory tomorrow with Jordan Montgomery on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 pm ET, so be sure to join us in the game thread.