It's been quite the last 2 weeks and change for the New York Yankees. They've ascended to the top of the AL East, they had won 12 of their last 15 games heading into last night's series finale in Boston, and they had a chance to finish off their first sweep in Boston since the famous 5-game beatdown in 2006. They got out to a hot start last night and looked like they were going to cruise to a lopsided victory. Boston did enough to make them sweat it out, however, and sweat it out they did en route to a much-harder-than-it-needed-to-be win.
As they seem to do regularly these days, the Yankees got the scoring started early. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to start things off in the top of the 1st, and just as the SNB crew was finishing up describing Joe Kelly's fastball as if it were Bob Gibson's, Mark Teixeira launched a 2-out, 2-run home run the other way (!!) to put the Yanks up 2-0. It was glorious.
And they kept it up in the top of the 3rd. Ellsbury did it again with a leadoff single, Alex Rodriguez singled with 1 out to put 2 men on, and Brian McCann finished off an 8-pitch at-bat with a line drive 2-run double to right-center to make it 4-0. The spoiling remains of Carlos Beltran followed up with a zombie RBI double to make it 5-0, and poor Joe Kelly and his fastball were getting slaughtered.
On the other side of the pitching ledger, Adam Warren came out and looked really sharp through the first 3 innings. He retired the Boston lineup in order the first time through, using a strong fastball and a steady mix of offspeed stuff to keep them guessing and not squaring up anything. The Sox didn't hit a ball out of the infield in those first 3 innings.
They ended that on a Mookie Betts double to start the bottom of the 4th and they almost got on the board after a successful challenge put runners on the corners with 2 outs. But Pablo Sandoval hit a weak grounder to short on a 3-0 pitch and bailed Warren out. Daniel Nava did the same in the next inning when he hit into a double play to erase a leadoff walk, and Warren looked like he was going to cruise into the 7th.
That's where things came off the rails for a bit. Brett Gardner hit a 3-run home run to make it 8-0 in the 6th, and Warren got 2 quick outs in the bottom half to bring Dustin Pedroia to the plate. He singled to start a rally and scored on David Ortiz's RBI double to finally get Boston their first run, then Warren threw a little fuel on the fire by (unintentionally) hitting Hanley Ramirez to put 2 men on. Another base hit by Sandoval plated another run run and ended Warren's night, and when Esmil Rogers came in and promptly served up a 3-run homer to Mike Napoli, it was a ballgame again.
The Yanks had a couple of chances to tack on some insurance runs and couldn't capitalize. The first came when Edward Mujica (intentionally) hit Ellsbury with 1 out in the 8th. It was as blatant as blatant could be, and a follow-up single by Gardner put the speediest ducks on the pond for the heart of the order. But A-Rod struck out, Teix walked, and Big Mac flied out to right to waste the chance. Gardner came up with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 9th and couldn't add to his RBI total, grounding out to end the inning.
That lack of late runs and lack of Dellin Betances in the bullpen made things a little tougher for Joe, and he pieced it together the best he could. Rogers got out of the 6th and into the 7th, Justin Wilson ended the 7th and started off the 8th, and David Carpenter came out of hiding to pick up 2 huge outs on 1 pitch, a double play ball off the bat of Napoli to end the 8th. That passed the baton to Andrew Miller, who was definitely not at his best stuff or command-wise last night. He needed 32 pitches to get the last 3 outs, mixing in a pair of walks and a pair of strikeouts to ensure he won't be available tonight. But he got that last out and that's all that matters. Update that tally sheet, boys and girls. The Yankees have won 13 of 16.
- Ellsbury and Gardner were monsters again at the top of the order. Combined 6-10, 4 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB. They're both on fire right now and it's fun to watch.
- Fun times on the Hanley and Ellsbury HBPs. Ramirez was obviously overreacting, as Red Sox left fielders named Ramirez are wont to do when they get hit, and the Yankee dugout was not happy with Mujica when he plunked Jake. Not that I can blame them. That was big time bush league. You don't get the job done with the first pitch, you don't get multiple do-overs. This ain't the county fair. CC popping up out of the dugout to talk smack was pretty sweet. If only he could move that quickly to cover first base, amiright???
- Multi-hit night for Beltran as he continues to wage war with the Mendoza Line. I actually had no clue he had another hit last night. How about that?
- Teix's batting line on the year is .202/.327/.583. I described him as "a filthy rich man's Mark Reynolds" on Twitter last night and I think that's pretty fair.
- Warren pitched much better than his 5.2 IP, 4 ER line would lead you to believe, but his 3-inning splits perfectly illustrate the work he has to do to get better as a starter. First 3 innings: 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Last 3 innings: 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K.
- If you didn't absolutely love the James Taylor in-booth segment on the ESPN broadcast last night, I don't know what to tell you. I think they should be doing more of that type of stuff to be honest. Getting hot new artists on to talk about their music-making process and promote their new album is a great way to bring the younger generation of fans into the game.