For the first time in 10 years, the Boston Red Sox rolled into the Bronx, and swept the New York Yankees on their home turf. After losing three out of four in their previous series, this was a huge bounce back series from the Sox. Their pitching continued to dominate opposing lineups, and the bats showed back up after taking a vacation for most of the last week or so. Getting a sweep is always nice, but a sweep over the Yankees is always going to be ten times better.
Friday night’s game was basically a spitting image of the Sox win over the Houston Astros on Thursday. Boston got an early lead thanks to a three run home run from Rafael Devers in the first inning. That lead would hold all the way to the sixth inning, where Marwin Gonzalez would add a two run double to the scoring, giving the Sox a 5-0 lead. Nathan Eovaldi had cruised until this point, but he would give up a solo home run to Aaron Judge shortly after, and then another run would score due to a couple of poor fielding plays. All in all, Eovaldi went six solid innings, and after struggling with consistency lately, this was a great outing for him. Hirokazu Sawamura came on in relief and was phenomenal, striking out five over two innings, and Matt Barnes shut the door in the ninth, giving Boston a 5-2 victory in the first game.
Speaking of pitchers struggling with consistency lately, Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hill last night, and turned in one of his best starts in recent memory. Rodriguez’s numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, as he went 5.1 innings, giving up three runs while striking out seven, but it was much better than what we saw from him for most of May. Most of the damage came off a two run bomb from Gleybar Torres to open the scoring in the game, but the Sox would retake the lead in the sixth thanks to a two run single from Devers, who was promptly driven in moments later off of a double from Gonzalez. Torres would tie things up at three apiece on a sac fly the next half inning, but the Sox would use a four run eighth inning to take the game. Kike Hernandez and Alex Verdugo both had RBI doubles, before Bobby Dalbec hit a 453 moonshot out to center field to put the finishing touches on this one. Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes would finish off the ninth, giving Boston a 7-3 win in this one.
So with a chance to sweep the Yankees out of their own ballpark, the Sox sent Garrett Richards to the mound tonight. Richards struggled to get guys out tonight, but did a good job of limiting the damage to only three runs over five innings. Alex Verdugo kicked off the scoring with a solo shot in the first inning, but the Sox would end up trailing 3-1 by the time Richards was done. That changed in the seventh when Gonzalez continued his big series with a two run homer just over the wall in left field to tie the game back up, and Xander Bogaerts would give Boston the lead with a sac fly in the eighth. With a 4-3 lead heading into the ninth, Matt Barnes was handed the ball with a save opportunity, but gave up an RBI double to Torres, allowing the Yankees to tie the game and send it to extras. Thankfully, Bogaerts would play hero tonight with a clutch two run single with two outs in the tenth, and despite a poor error from Gonzalez in the field the next half inning, he made a great play one batter later to help Phillips Valdez get his first major league save, and get Boston a three game sweep over the Yankees with a 6-5 victory.
This was the bounce back series Boston needed after a rough one against the Astros last week. If there was any doubt that the Sox were a playoff contender yet, that should be erased now. They swept one of the top teams in baseball in their own stadium, and while the Yankees have been disappointing so far this season, they still have enough talent to throttle any team on a given night. The fact that Boston was able to control this series for the most part, and pick up all three wins, shows that this team is legit, and may have a real shot at coming out on top of the AL East.
What wasn’t there to love this series? The starters did a great job at limiting a potent Yankees lineup multiple times through the order, creating a perfect segway to the bullpen. They weren’t spectacular by any means, but they did more than enough to keep their team in the game, which was crucial in each of the wins. Aside from Barnes meltdown tonight, the bullpen was stellar, as Barnes run allowed was the only one the bullpen gave up in 11.2 innings of the work this series. Anytime you can limit a team to one run over that amount of baseball is obviously going to be a huge determining factor in winning games.
And after watching the bats go into a deep slumber against the Astros, they finally woke up this time around, and came through with some very clutch hitting. Gonzalez played a key role in each game with some very timely hits, which should do wonders for getting him back on track. Guys like Kike Hernandez and Xander Bogaerts both found their swings again after enduring some long hitless streaks, while also contributing some big hits in clutch moments. The hitting will admittedly come and go at times throughout the season, but when the Sox lineup can consistently bring guys home, they will usually come out on top.
Boston will have an interesting week coming up, and it starts with a late afternoon first pitch against the Miami Marlins tomorrow. This is a one-off makeup game for last week’s rain drenched series, as the Sox will then quickly move into another three game series against the Astros afterwards. After losing their recent series to the Astros, it will be important for the Sox to show that they can hang with the Astros on a consistent basis, and hopefully that will lead to another series victory.