RECAP: JD Martinez’s Clutch Home Run Leads #RedSox to Win over Yankees in Series Finale.

Going into the series finale on Thursday night, a win for the Red Sox was almost vital. The difference between leaving New York tied for first place in the AL East and trailing by two games is huge. The good thing is, they locked down the get away day win, but it was a rocky road getting there.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, and he was coming off a performance in Texas where he gave up three home runs. Fortunately, he put together a much better outing in the Bronx last night. In five rain-interrupted innings, the lefty surrendered zero runs on just one hit and three walks while fanning eight. Other than the fourth inning, there was really no point in the game where it looked like Rodriguez was struggling. From the first to the third, he faced 10 batters and struck out half of them. After that, things got a little shaky for the native of Venezuela in the bottom half of the fourth. A leadoff walk to Aaron Judge, a single to Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees first hit of the night, and another walk to Gary Sanchez loaded the bases with only one out in the inning. With a three run lead to protect, it was looking like the Yankees were about to stage another comeback. That still happened, but not with Rodriguez on the mound, as the 25-year-old retired the next two batters he faced to get out of the fourth unscathed.

In between the conclusion of the fourth inning and the middle of the fifth, there was a 55 minute rain delay, which ultimately ended Yankees starter CC Sabathia’s day, but not Rodriguez’s. He came back out for the fifth inning and wrapped his stellar night up by collecting two more K’s and getting Brett Gardner to ground out to short to conclude things in the fifth. It’s a shame he couldn’t go any further, but with a pitch count of 95 (53 strikes) and that previously mentioned weather delay, I can understand why Alex Cora went with a fresh arm for the sixth.

That fresh arm just so happened to be Matt Barnes, coming off one of his worst outings of the season on Wednesday night. Those struggles would not continue though, as the righty tossed a scoreless frame despite walking the first batter he saw. Next up out of the ‘pen was Heath Hembree for the seventh inning, and that’s where things started to momentarily fall apart for the Red Sox once again.

After getting Tyler Austin to fly out to right to begin the inning, Hembree surrendered two hits and a walk to the next three batters he faced. That loaded the bases up with just one out, and that was all the action Hembree saw. In the month of May, the righty out of South Carolina owns an ERA north of 11 in four innings of work. Not great.

Having already dealt with a bases loaded jam in this series, Joe Kelly was next out of the bullpen. Things did not get off the best of starts for the Red Sox flamethrower, as he walked in a run on four pitches and gave up a one-run single in two consecutive at bats. After that, the Yankees tacked on another two runs before Kelly retired the side, thus tying the game at four runs a piece.

With the Red Sox taking the lead back on a JD Martinez home run in the top of the eighth, Alex Cora decided to stick with Kelly for another inning of work. Again, he was not at his sharpest, as he allowed the tying run to reach second base at one point, but came through in the end. Facing off against Neil Walker with runners on first and second and two outs, Kelly needed six pitches to record his second and final strikeout of the night, while stranding the tying and go-ahead runs in the process. The California native was credited with a blown save and his second win of the season thanks to his efforts.

Since Kelly protected the one run lead in the eighth inning, that paved the way for Craig Kimbrel coming in for a clean ninth. There has been plenty of tak about when it is most ideal to use the Red Sox closer, but I think it’s safe to say that he prefers working in the ninth. Compared to Wednesday night, Kimbrel looked like a different guy on the mound. He tossed a perfect frame while also recording his 24th strikeout this season. With save number 10 on the year, Kimbrel locked down the get away day win for the Red Sox, ensuring that they leave New York with a share of the division lead in the AL East.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup was not at a disadvantage with 18-year veteran CC Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees. In fact, they reached base nine times off of him in only four innings. Mookie Betts set the tone right away with a leadoff double to right field to start the game. Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez got his impressive day at the plate started with an RBI ground out to short. That allowed Betts, who had moved up to third, to score easily and give the Red Sox their first run of the game.

Fast forward to the third, and Hanley Ramirez is in the thick of things once again. After two straight hits from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to lead off the inning put runners on second and third, Ramirez notched his second of three RBIs on the night on a single to shallow right field that Gleyber Torres could do nothing with. That allowed Betts to score from third and allowed Benintendi to advance to third himself. JD Martinez wrapped up the scoring in the top of the third, as he drove in Benintendi from third on a hard hit RBI force out that could easily have been a double play if Gleyber Torres held on to the ball.

Later on in the fifth, Hanley Ramirez led things off by putting the fourth run of the game for the Red Sox on the board with his fifth big fly of the season.

That 412 foot shot to left field came just in the nick of time for the Red Sox, as the game was delayed due to rain one pitch into the next at bat.

After a 55 minute delay and a Yankees rally in the bottom of the seventh, it seemed as if the Red Sox were destined to blow another late lead. Fortunately for them, JD Martinez did not allow that to happen. With Dellin Betances on the mound for his second frame of work, the Red Sox outfielder took a 97 MPH fastball on the inside edge of the plate and launched it 350 feet into the opposite field.

A vintage JD Martinez home run, his ninth of the season, put the Red Sox on top 5-4 and they would not have to look back. His only hit of the game turned out to be the most important one. What a guy.

Some notes from this one:

After a three-hit performance last night, Mookie Betts leads all of baseball in several offensive categories. Those being Batting Average (.361), Slugging Percentage (.803), OPS (1.244), Total Bases (98), Home Runs (13), and Extra Base Hits (27). All of this and he’s batting leadoff. Incredible.

With his ninth home run of the season last night, JD Martinez has now recorded a hit in 11 straight games. Over that stretch, the Miami native is slashing an outlandish .444/.490/.778 in 49 Plate Appearances.

For the first time this season, Hanley Ramirez has homered in back-to-back games. That happening after going 19 games in between his second and third long balls of the season. So maybe he’s about to heat up.

Next up for the Red Sox is the last leg of this road trip in Toronto. Last time they were up north, the Red Sox came away with the series win. Chris Sale gets the ball in the series opener, he’ll be matched up against righty Aaron Sanchez for Toronto. David Price is also scheduled to pitch on Saturday in this three-game set. First pitch tonight is set for 7:07 PM ET. Happy Sale Day.

 

 

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RECAP: Giancarlo Stanton Homers Twice as #RedSox Can’t Complete Comeback Against Yankees.

After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox and Yankees began a three-game series at Yankee Stadium for the first time this season last night. With the two best records in all of baseball, this series has some serious potential although it is only the beginning of May.

Drew Pomeranz got the start in this one for the Red Sox, and he was surprisingly good. I’ll be honest, I thought the lefty was going to get shelled by the Yankees lineup last night, especially during the second inning. Giancarlo Stanton hit his first of two home runs of off Pomeranz to lead off the frame, and that was followed by a walk, an injury delay, and then another walk. It appeared that Pomeranz was having an issue with one of the fingernails on his throwing hand last night, and that’s what caused the delay.

Luckily for the Red Sox, Pomeranz was able to deal with any sort of discomfort he was feeling and tossed five innings of one-run ball after that. The Yankees tacked on their second run of the night on another Stanton homer, but that was all Pomeranz gave up. With his pitch count at a season-high 107 (62 strikes) after recording the last out in the bottom of the sixth, Pomeranz’s day would be done. The Tennessee native finished with a pitching line of 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, and 6 K’s. All things considered, not too shabby for Pomeranz, a performance worthy of a win, that’s for sure.

In relief of Pomeranz, it was Heath Hembree who got the call for the seventh. After recording the first out of the inning on two pitches, the righty followed that up by loading the bases on his next 18. With the game tied at two at the time, Alex Cora would turn to Joe Kelly to get out of a very tight situation, and he was greeted by the Yankees faithful with plenty of boos.

Aaron Judge was the first batter Kelly faced, and he ripped a single to left field. That scored Neil Walker from third and it looked like it was going to score Gleyber Torres from second as well. However, a great throw to home and outfield assist from Andrew Benintendi prevented that from happening.

https://www.mlb.com/video/benintendi-nabs-torres-at-home/c-2022043483?tid=6479266

After getting Didi Gregorius to ground out to end the inning, Kelly would come back out for the eighth. A leadoff walk to Giancarlo Stanton, a stolen base, and a wild pitch eventually led to there being one out and a runner at third. Facing Aaron Hicks, the Red Sox flamethrower got the Yankees outfielder out on a fielder’s choice. Thanks to Hanley Ramirez, Stanton was ruled out at the plate.

https://streamable.com/m/2022175183

Carson Smith would be up next from the Red Sox bullpen, and he struck out Miguel Andujar on four pitches, the only batter he faced.

On the other side of things, Yankees starter Luis Severino put on quite the performance on the mound last night. He held the Red Sox to their only two runs of the game in six-plus innings of quality work.

Andrew Benintendi got the scoring started for the Red Sox in the top half of the fifth. After Eduardo Nunez led off things by striking out and reaching on a wild pitch, Mookie Betts moved him up to second three batters later on a hard hit single to center field. Next up was Andrew Benintendi, and he lined a single of his own to center which allowed Nunez to come around and score from second. One run game.

Fast forward to the seventh, Eduardo Nunez led things off once again, and he reached base yet again, this time on a single. Another three batters later, Mookie Betts scored Nunez on a triple that got by Brett Gardner in left field.

https://www.mlb.com/video/betts-rbi-triple-in-the-7th/c-2021891283?tid=6479266

That knotted things up at two runs a piece, but the tie would not last long, as the Yankees scored the go-ahead run a half inning later. After a scoreless eighth, the Red Sox lineup would have one last chance to make a game out of this one in the ninth against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman.

In the past, Chapman has looked shaky while facing the Red Sox, but that was not the case last night. He gave them a shot by putting Jackie Bradley Jr. on first after hitting him in the elbow with a 103.3 MPH fastball, the hardest thrown pitch so far this season.

With a runner on first and two outs, Alex Cora stuck with Christian Vazquez in a huge spot. That move did not pay off though, as Vazquez grounded out to Gleyber Torres to end the game.

With that loss, the Red Sox fall to 25-10, and with that win, the Yankees improve to 25-10. David Price was supposed to pitch tonight, but he got sent home because of a finger issue. Instead, it will be Rick Porcello making the start against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.