A Midsummer rivalry match between two of the American League’s hottest teams promised constant excitement, and the first two games of the series certainly provided fireworks. Last night it was the long ball and high lever assists that pulled it off; tonight it was the little ball and less heralded bullpen guns that propelled the Yankees to a 12-5 win.
The Yankees skipped rookie starter Connor Seabold in the first. There seemed to be an extra level of focus up and down the Yankees lineup to avoid bidding on out-of-zone pitches, forcing the inexperienced right-hander to come to them with underwhelming stuff. DJ LeMahieu started with a single and came in with a Gleyber Torres single to score. Josh Donaldson provided the big hit in the first — a towering three-run shot over the monster, his third home run in as many games.
It’s good that the Yankees batsmen gave Nestor Cortes a 4-0 lead in the first inning after he was far from his best on Friday night. He returned two of those runs at the end of the first, allowing Rob Refsnyder and JD Martinez to reach singles before Christian Vázquez ran the pair in with a two-out double.
The Yankees snagged one of those runs thanks to another LeMahieu single in the second before Matt Carpenter drove him home with a double off the Monster.
In the third it got really crazy. Aaron Hicks led with a walk followed by a double from Jose Trevino to put the men with no outs in second and third place. Joey Gallo caught one to the right that looked like it would be his third sac of his career. However, Christian Arroyo never saw the ball, which landed a good 25 yards behind the Boston right fielder. Hicks and Trevino scored easily and Gallo was kicked out at home trying to stretch an inside-the-parker. Still, the two-run treble extended the Yankees’ lead to 7-2.
Carpenter continued his Bondsian revenge spree, hitting his ninth home run of the season to start the fourth. This means that 9 of his first 16 hits in pinstripes now leave the yard. Just crazy!
Things didn’t get any nicer for Cortes in the lower part of the frame. Trevor Story started with a home run, and two batters later, Bobby Dalbec added his own solo shot to make it 9-4, Yankees. After giving another double and walk, manager Aaron Boone had seen enough and drew Cortes for Miguel Castro. The right-hander loaded the bases by knocking Xander Bogaerts to the ground but left all three ducks on the pond with a clutch strikeout from Vázquez on a wicked 3-2 slider.
This was hardly the outing the Yankees were hoping for from Cortes, especially after seeing him nine runs in the first four innings. Seven of the eight hits came against either four-sails that weren’t fast enough to hit inside right-handers or on off-speed pitches that missed the heart of the plate.
That’s also now nine home runs Cortes gave up in his last 28.2 innings after giving up just 4 in his first 60 frames. He’s already passed his career-high in starts and is a trip away from a career-high innings. His next few starts should tell us how much that contributes to his slump. Cortes’ final line: 3.2 innings, eight hits, four runs, two walks, and four strikeouts on 73 pitches.
Albert Abreu made things interesting in the sixth, giving up three singles and a run before being drawn for Lucas Luetge. The southpaw went with Alex Verdugo to load the bases and put the tie run on the plate, but prompted a story pop to strand all three and keep the score at 9-5. He would also hit the side in seventh and retire eighth on 10 spots.
The Yankees added insurance runs in each of the seventh, eighth, and ninth. The first came after a safety squeeze from Marwin Gonzalez to defeat Hicks, who had taken the lead with a single. In the eighth round, Carpenter pulled a singlet to the right for his third hit of the game before being doubled home by Torres to give the second baseman a three-hit night of his own.
In the ninth round, the Red Sox turned to Jackie Bradley Jr. for a pitch, and he went on a run to extend the Yankees’ lead to 12-5. That’s where the score would stay.
Luetge earned an opportunity to finish that game and did so with ease, completing a hugely valuable 3.1-inning save on a night that saw the starter bow out early. The 12-5 win is the Yankees’ league-leading 14th game to score in double digits after only six such attempts all of last season. With the Rays’ loss, the Yankees are now 15.5 games ahead in the AL East and 16 games ahead of the Red Sox (Toronto is level on points with Boston and still playing).
New York will look to guarantee at least one series win tomorrow with Jordan Montgomery on the mound. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET, so join the game thread.