If only for a night, CC Sabathia looked like the ace of old Thursday night in a win against the Red Sox. The Yankees needed to secure a series win against the basement-dwelling Red Sox to stay well ahead of the red-hot Blue Jays who visit Yankee Stadium this weekend, and the big left-hander gave the team all they could ask for.
Sabathia got eight strikeouts against Red Sox batters, all swinging. He surrendered three hits across six innings and walked three while giving up only one run. The lone run allowed by Sabathia came after an unfortunate two-out walk to a .118 hitter in Jackie Bradley Jr. that would push Ryan Hanigan into scoring position. Rusney Castillo sent Hanigan home with an RBI single following the Bradley walk. That tied the game up at the time, but the Yankees were ultimately able to push another run across to get a rare win in a game where they score three runs or less. The bullpen came on and worked their usual magic with Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller each working a scoreless inning to close out the game. Miller managed to make it a little interesting with two outs, thanks to a bloop single and another unfortunate walk. He remained perfect in save situations in the end with his 24th of the year.
New York's offense was mostly quiet for another night after their offensive explosion in the first game of the series. Alex Rodriguez drove in the first run of the game with an RBI double to left field that scored Brett Gardner from first base. Not many runners would be able to advance all the way around the bases on a hit to left field in that situation, but Gardner is not most runners. The Yankees had a great chance to extend their lead in the fifth inning when Brendan Ryan and Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with back to back singles. Gardner dropped a bunt that he almost beat out to advance the runners, which allowed the Red Sox to intentionally walk Alex Rodriguez. Mark Teixeira popped up to the catcher in foul territory and Chris Young popped up on the infield to end the threat. With the right part of the lineup up, failure there would have been extra painful if the Yankees hadn't found a way to end the game. Thankfully, that wasn't the case.
Ellsbury entered tonight's game in quite a slump that has gone on basically since he returned from the disabled list. He notched two hits tonight, including the all important game-winning home run in the seventh inning that would put the Yankees on top for good. It was his fifth long ball of the year. Hopefully that's the springboard he needs to get himself going again at the plate. Rodriguez continued his impressive season with two more hits tonight, and Teixeira extended his on-base streak to 23 straight games with a walk.
The Yankees remain 4.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays with their victory after the Blue Jays also recorded a win tonight. Those Blue Jays will travel to Yankee Stadium for three-games this weekend in what will be a series of two of the best offenses in baseball. The Yankees can give themselves some much-needed space in the division against a team they face double digit times for the rest of the season with another series win. Nathan Eovaldi gets the start against R.A. Dickey at 7:05 pm.