For the second straight night, the pitch clock nudged the usual Yankees-Sox crawl into a more brisk affair of well under three hours. The first two games of this rivalry series have been hotly contested pitcher’s duels. The Red Sox took the first game 3-2, but the Yankees came out victorious Saturday night by a score of 3-1.
Domingo Germán came out firing with some wicked breaking balls in the first inning. He wrapped up the scoreless frame with a strikeout of Rafael Devers on a back-foot beauty. Tanner Houck matched him with a sharp first inning of his own and would dominate the first three innings. Germán found himself in a jam with two outs in the second inning after a Triston Casas walk followed by a Reese McGuire double put runners on second and third, but he wiggled out of it unscathed.
Jake Bauers kept the game knotted scoreless in the third inning when Devers caught up with a fastball and hit a long fly ball to left. Bauers ranged back on the ball and made an exceptional play up against the left-field wall to end the third, stranding Justin Turner on third. Bauers has found ways to be an impact player, and you wonder if he has a real shot to stick on this roster long-term.
The Yankees went hitless against Houck the first time through the lineup. He slung frisbee sliders to excellent effect against the Bombers’ lefty and righty hitters alike and impressively racked up six strikeouts in his first three innings.
The second time through the order started off with a bang, when Gleyber Torres cracked a sinker left over the plate to the opposite field for a solo home run, his 11th of the year. Germán continued to scatter singles, and at the halfway point Torres’ home run was the only scoring to speak of.
The bottom of the fifth began with a Billy McKinney double, setting up Anthony Volpe for an RBI opportunity. He tapped into a double play to end the inning, and that’s the kind of stretch it’s been for Volpe. Frustrating to say the least, but inevitable growing pains for the shortstop of the future. Prone to errors so far at short, it’s up for debate whether an everyday role is too much for him at this point, but his struggles continue nonetheless.
Rafael Devers turned around the first pitch of the sixth inning to dead center for a solo home run, tying the score at one. He’s now homered in consecutive games and remains a menace at Yankee Stadium.
The tie wouldn’t last long — in the bottom half of the sixth, sudden lineup anchor Willie Calhoun lashed a porch-shot line-drive home run into the first row in right center field. When it landed, the Yankees took back a 2-1 lead.
Both starters threw exceptionally well and showcased excellent breaking balls. Both exited after posting six strong innings. Germán yielded to Wandy Peralta for a scoreless seventh inning and Houck gave way to Brennan Bernardino. Bernardino surrendered a leadoff single to Kiner-Falefa before retiring the next two batters. With two outs, Alex Cora made the move and went to righty Josh Winckowski. This backfied — Kyle Higashioka turned a first-pitch breaking ball back up the middle for an RBI base knock and a huge insurance run.
The top of the eighth brought in Tommy Kahnle and a couple of anxious moments. With Adam Duvall on first after a hit-by-pitch, Christian Arroyo laced a Kahnle offering to deep center field, but IKF tracked it down successfully. Kahnle bounced back to finish a scoreless eighth with no further damage.
Clay Holmes entered the game and struck out his first hitter, but Alex Verdugo stroked a single with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate. Holmes quickly stymied the threat and shut the door for the save.
There was a lot to like for Yankees fans in this game — Germán’s solid start, Bauers’ sparkling play, Torres’ beautiful opposite field swing among them. Tomorrow, the Yankees will go for the series win on Sunday Night Baseball. Brayan Bello will face Clarke Schmidt at 7:10 pm EST.