The Red Sox did not waste any time in getting an already-pumped up crowd into their game against the Yankees at a sold-out Fenway Park on Friday night.
Shortly after the team celebrated Dustin Pedroia’s career in an emotional pregame ceremony, a pair of back-to-back singles from Michael Chavis and Alex Verdugo to lead things off in the bottom of the first inning put the Sox in business against Yankees starter Domingo German.
Xander Bogaerts cleared the bases by ripping a two-run double to left-center field, while Hunter Renfroe drove him in on another run-scoring double to give Boston an early 3-0 lead.
Martin Perez, meanwhile, was making his 15th start of the season for the Sox on Friday, and he allowed the Yankees to come right back into this game despite being given an early cushion to work with.
New York tacked on three unearned runs off the veteran left-hander in their half of the second, with Bogaerts committing a costly fielding error that would later permit Clint Frazier to get his side on the board by drawing a bases-loaded walk and D.J. LeMahieu to even things up with a two-run single to right field.
As previously mentioned, Perez was not charged with either of those three tallies, though he only made it to the two-out mark of the fourth inning while giving up six hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts before his evening came to a close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (44 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler did not factor into Friday’s decision, but did lower his ERA on the season to 4.09. His next start should come against the Royals back at Fenway Park on Wednesday.
While Perez did allow the Yankees to erase their three-run deficit, Renfroe struck again once more in the bottom of the third, this time plating J.D. Martinez from third base on a sacrifice fly that gave the Sox a 4-3 edge.
The hard-throwing outfielder also contributed to the cause a half inning later, as he gunned down the potential tying run in the form of Gio Urshela on a 94.7 mph dart to home plate for his league-leading 11th outfield assist of the year.
In relief of Perez, who got the hook from Sox manager Alex Cora shortly after that play, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, finished things in the fourth, and tossed a scoreless fifth inning as well.
From there, a pair of ex-Yankees right-handers took over, with Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock twirling two scoreless frames before Adam Ottavino punched out two in a 1-2-3 top of the eighth.
Christian Vazquez supplied a much-needed insurance run by scoring Renfroe from second on an RBI single in the bottom half of the frame to make it a 5-3 contest, and that set the stage for Matt Barnes in the ninth.
The Red Sox closer ran into some initial trouble, issuing back-to-back singles to the first two hitters he faced, but was able to settle in, fan Frazier for the first out, and get LeMahieu to ground into a game-sealing 6-4-3 double play to notch his 16th save of the season and preserve the 5-3 victory.
All in all, the Red Sox bullpen (Sawamura, Whitlock, Ottavino, Barnes) on Friday combined to pitch 5 1/3 shutout innings while scattering just three hits and one walk in addition to striking out a total of seven Yankees hitters.
With the win, the Sox snap a two-game skid and improve to 45-31 on the season, though they still trail the Rays by a half game for first place in the American League East.
Next up for the Red Sox, they will go for the series win over the Yankees on national television Saturday night.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston, while left-hander Jordan Montgomery will do the same for New York.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.
(Picture of Hunter Renfroe: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)