It seems odd that we are just about halfway through the MLB season, and the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have only faced off twice so far. Based on how the first six contests have gone though, the Sox should be licking their chops to play the Yankees as much as they can the rest of the season, as they’ve swept the Yanks in both series, posting a commanding 6-0 record on the season.
This recent sweep felt like it had more weight on it however. The Sox just came off a series loss against the Tampa Bay Rays, with the finale being a particularly tough pill to swallow, as the Rays won the game, and the series, on a walkoff wild pitch after not recording a hit until the seventh inning. Boston had a chance to put some distance between themselves and Tampa after winning the opener, but found themselves sitting a half game behind them when all was said and done. Top this with having to face a Yankees team seemed to be picking up steam, as they had won seven of their last nine games heading into the series, and it seemed like Boston could be set to lose their pace a top the AL East.
But Boston pretty easily dispatched the Yankees in all three games, and were led by a different part of their team in each contest. In the first game, the Sox bullpen did the heavy lifting. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first, Martin Perez struggled in the second inning and quickly coughed up his three run lead. He only lasted 3.2 innings, meaning it was going to be up to the bullpen to pick up the extra slack and try to help the Sox secure a victory.
As it turns out, that is exactly what they did. With the Sox holding a 4-3 lead, Hirokazu Sawamura relieved Perez to finish off the fourth and ensure the lead stayed with Boston. He would handle the fifth inning as well, and was fired up after striking out Luke Voit to end the inning. He turned the ball over to Garrett Whitlock for the sixth, and he would end up making it through two innings with relative ease. Adam Ottavino was perfect in the eighth, and Matt Barnes would pick up the save despite allowing the first two batters to reach base on him. The bullpen’s final line on the night; 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7K, a truly great outing that helped the Sox pick up the victory in the opener.
The second game was all about Nathan Eovaldi. The starting rotation has come back down to earth recently, but Eovaldi has emerged as the most consistent source to help the unit stay afloat. Eovaldi was brilliant against the Yankees, going 7.2 innings while only giving up a solo home run to D.J. LeMahieu right before he was done on the night. Considering the recent struggles we have seen pitchers go through with the MLB’s recent crackdown on sticky substances, it’s been very encouraging to see Eovaldi continue to push forward despite the circumstances surrounding the entire situation. If he can continue to pitch like this, and the Sox can add back vintage Chris Sale later this season, Boston could have themselves quite a dangerous 1-2 punch in their rotation come the postseason.
Yesterday’s finale was all about the lineup (and Eduardo Rodriguez to an extent). From the first pitch they saw, the lineup mashed Yankees ace Gerrit Cole all over Fenway. Kike Hernandez opened the scoring with a solo shot on the first pitch he saw, and Rafael Devers would add to the tally with a 451 foot three run homer only moments later to give Boston an early 4-0 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
J.D. Martinez would join in on the fun, and the usually unhittable Cole was hit hard for five runs over five innings. They would finish the game with nine runs, which is a great sign to see after some lifeless games from the lineup recently. It was also great to see considering Rodriguez was on the mound yesterday, and considering his recent struggles, you wouldn’t have been faulted for assuming the Sox wouldn’t come away with the sweep when you took a look at the initial pitching matchup.
But Rodriguez was superb yesterday. He went six innings for the second consecutive start, but was finally able to pick up his first win in nearly two months thanks to the lineup. His only blemish on the day was a two run homer to Aaron Judge, but otherwise the Yankees couldn’t figure him out. It’s really imperative that Rodriguez keeps this up, as his spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy once Sale returns from injury. Outings like this will go a long way to keeping him in the rotation when that time comes around.
This series displayed two teams heading in opposite directions. The Red Sox regained their lead a top the AL East thanks to this victory, and have cemented themselves as one of the top teams in the American League, if not the entire MLB at this point. On the other hand, the Yankees now find themselves sliding further down the AL East, and currently sit in fourth place, as the Toronto Blue Jays moved up to third place after yesterday’s action. The preseason predictions appear to have been mightily wrong, and the Red Sox proved just that with yet another sweep over the New York Yankees this past weekend.