Fans came to the ballpark on Sunday night in the Bronx hoping to see Aaron Judge hit No. 61 and more as this homestand concluded. After Boston kept him in check over the first six inning, impressive thunderstorms intervened, and after a 90-minute delay, the game was called. Judge might not have homered in any of the four games against the Red Sox, but the Yankees completed a four-game sweep anyway with Nestor Cortes providing the highlights in a 2-0 shutout for the finale.
Cortes worked a scoreless first around a walk to Xander Bogaerts. J.D. Martinez briefly caused a scare on a long laser to left that looked like it could be a home run, but Aaron Hicks caught it right at the wall.
That brought up Judge, who pulled a leadoff double down the left-field line. Anthony Rizzo grounded out to the right side, allowing Judge to advance to third. Gleyber Torres followed with a flyout to right, but it was too shallow to be a sacrifice fly. Unfortunately, Oswaldo Cabrera also hit one softly on the ground, ending the inning and keep the first run off the board.
Cortes and Bello traded clean halves of the second inning, and the All-Star lefty twirled another clean third for New York while Harrison Bader provided some delightful commentary in a mic’d-up session for ESPN.
Starting for the first time in eight days, Oswald Peraza singled with one out in the bottom of the third, bringing up Judge. But the record wait would continue, as Judge worked a full count walk after taking some tough pitches just out of the zone. But once again the Yankees couldn’t drive in a run — Rizzo popped out and Torres hit a check swing ground out.
Nestor had been getting outs through contact but throwing a lot of balls and allowing the Sox batters to get into deep counts and driving his pitch count up. It nearly came back to bite him in the top of the fourth. He began by walking Tommy Pham, and although he did get Bogaerts and Martinez to fly out, it took a lot of pitches to do so. Then, Rob Refsnyder hit an automatic double to left field that just barely hit the dirt in fair territory before bouncing into the stands. With two runners in scoring position, Cortes got out of the jam by striking out Triston Casas looking.
The Yankees once again got a prime scoring chance in the bottom of the fourth. Cabrera led the frame off with a nicely-struck double into the gap. However, Bader and Hicks struck out behind him. Cabrera did steal third on the pitch Hicks struck out on, though, and that helped him to score on a Jose Trevino single past a diving Bobby Dalbec.
Nestor made it through the fifth inning on nine pitches in a nice bounce-back frame.
Peraza began the home half with a double, his second hit of the day. That brought up Judge, who got a hanging slider first pitch that he just missed, flying out to left-center field. Rizzo followed with a groundout into the shift, with Peraza advancing to third. Torres walked, then stole second as Cabrera worked a good at bat, but he ended up striking out. Another missed opportunity for runs.
Despite his pitch count being at 89, Cortes was sent back out for the sixth inning. But he had a successful end to his day, striking out Kiké Hernandez and Pham before getting Bogaerts to fly out. He finished with six innings pitched, only one hit allowed, two walks, and five strikeouts. Cortes might not have dominated, but he was still successful. After all, thanks to the rain, it counts as a shutout in the books anyway!
Bad defense has been a hallmark of the Red Sox all season, and it helped the Yankees get their second run in the sixth. Bader led off with an infield single, then was replaced by Hicks when the latter hit into a fielder’s choice. Trevino lifted an easy fly ball for the second out, and then Marwin Gonzalez hit what appeared to be the third out to Refsnyder in right. But it had started to rain at Yankee Stadium, and perhaps that played in a role in Refsnyder’s miscue:
The former Yankee simply missed the ball and it dropped. Hicks, to his credit, was motoring around the bases and scored standing up, making it 2-0.
With heavier rain and lightning quickly approaching, the tarp came out and a rain delay started. ESPN kept insisting that the game would restart and that fans would get to see Judge, but it was always deeply unrealistic considering the stormy conditions, bad forecast, and the fact that both teams need to leave town. After a delay that lasted an hour and a half, the game was mercifully called. No homer for Judge, but a quick and easy enough win for a sweep, and a magic number of two? Fine by me.
The Yankees will look to clinch the East in this upcoming series against the Blue Jays, beginning tomorrow in Toronto. It should be a prime matchup at Rogers Centre, as Luis Severino is expected to face ace Kevin Gausman with first pitch at 7:07pm ET.