Good starting pitching. Clutch hitting. Bullpen meltdowns. Unforgivable errors and miscues. Managers attempting to play chess. And good old controversy thanks to bad umpiring.
A night after Giancarlo Stanton altered the trajectory of the Bombers’ playoff chances, he came through again when it mattered most … but that’s the end of this layered story.
Everything that happened in between only made that moment even more electrifying. Where should we start?
Let’s fast forward to the bottom of the seventh inning. The Yankees lead 2-1 and reliever Clay Holmes is ready to come out for his second inning of action after throwing just 11 pitches (nine strikes) in a perfect sixth.
But then Red Sox manager Alex Cora played some mind games with Aaron Boone, and the Yankees’ skipper took the bait. Cora sent a lefty hitter to the on-deck circle, Boone countered with lefty Joely Rodriguez even though Holmes was perfectly capable of facing a bad left-handed hitter, and Cora pinch-hit for the pinch-hitter and brought righty Jose Iglesias to the plate.
A single, bunt single, wild pitch and sac fly quickly tied this game up. Then came Chad Green, who got a huge strikeout on a bad call by Joe West to send Kiké Hernandez back to the dugout. Kyle Schwarber stepped into the batter’s box with two outs. And the Yankees bailed him out TWICE with TWO errors. Here was the first by DJ LeMahieu:
The Yankees choked away their lead, then gained it back in epic fashion against the Red Sox.
You’ve gotta be kidding. You cannot give Schwarber a second chance against the shaky Green. Luckily … Schwarber skied another offering from the right-hander, this time into shallow left field. But Joey Gallo fumbled the play in spectacular fashion.
That scored Alex Verdugo and the Red Sox took a 3-2 lead. In come the postgame stories about Boone’s decision-making and errors costing the Yankees a much-needed sweep …
Oh, one more gaffe for good measure! In the top half of the eighth inning, Gio Urshela worked a leadoff walk and Tyler Wade came on to pinch run. The speedster had second base stolen but he … decided not to slide?
What are we watching?
But that almost didn’t matter. DJ LeMahieu walked, Anthony Rizzo ripped a double, and Aaron Judge came to the plate with runners on second and third with a chance to tie it up with one out.
Unfortunately he struck out … or did he?!
Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez fumbled the exchange to make it appear as if he dropped the foul tip … and home plate umpire Joe West missed another call. Cora was unable to challenge because the play wasn’t subject to review. Judge was given another life.
And you simply cannot let that happen.
Former Yankee Adam Ottavino relieved Garrett Richards right before that at-bat and Judge’s two-run double to give New York a 4-3 lead didn’t help matters with Stanton coming to the plate with one out and a runner in scoring position.
Didn’t. Help. At all. Stanton sent ANOTHER home run over the Green Monster and into the streets of Boston to extend the lead to 6-3. That’s three home runs and 10 RBI in this series ALONE for the former NL MVP.
Deja vu for Red Sox fans because that’s exactly how Sunday night ended, too. The Yankees finished off the job thanks to Green’s relief appearance and Aroldis Chapman’s save. The Bombers have proven resilient when we least expected them to be.
They now lead the AL Wild Card race with the Sox trailing by one game and the Blue Jays trailing by two. They still lost the season series to Boston 9-10, but they salvaged that 0-7 start. Just about everyone deserves credit, and Yankees fans can finally hit the pillow with little to worry about.
And a day off tomorrow? This can’t be real …