Winning a series at Fenway Park always feels like a near-impossible test where every corner of the ballpark’s energy is bending away from you. In order for the Yankees to capture a four-game set, they have to defeat the battered Red Sox pitching, fearsome Boston lineup, 30,000 fans hanging over the field like skittering mice, a lice outbreak, listeria, and an umpiring crew that looks at a deficit an says, “How can I help Boston switch this around?” That’s just the way it is, and the way it’s always been.
Sunday night, the Yankees were unsuccessful in their attempt to take the series, encountering a series of additional challenges on what felt like a tilted playing field in the final two games of the set. Instead, they’ll take the split, as momentum slid out of their grasp Saturday before spinning out of control in the finale.
Did poor umpiring or loud townies change either Saturday’s or Sunday’s losses? No, of course not. The Yankees had ample chances to put both games away, and couldn’t (even though Saturday’s home plate umpire reportedly “favored” Boston by .59 runs in a one-run walk-off win, but that’s none of our biz).
The terrible, slanted umping only served to create poor optics in a Sunday finale where the Yankees had already blown four-run leads (4-0 and 6-2). Once the Red Sox found enough runs to take a slim lead, the umps took over and decided that they could finally, openly root for their favorite team: those lovable, scrappy underdogs in Beantown with the same payroll as the Yankees and overseas investments in Liverpool.
Down one in the seventh, Giancarlo Stanton saw two splitters low off the plate and a third inside at his elbow. All three were called strikes, resulting in a full-count backwards K and an Aaron Boone ejection.
Yankees’ Aaron Boone got ejected with NSFW rant for Giancarlo Stanton strikeout
Boone went nuts, but his motivational tactics didn’t work; whoever decided to bring in Miguel Castro next might as well have thrown a gas can on the mound. Maybe an ejected and dejected Boone should’ve just pitched himself. Hey, he couldn’t have thrown more of a cookie to Alex Verdugo if he’d tried.
In measured reality, the Yankees did all they had to do in this weekend set, erasing four days off the Red Sox’ comeback calendar, with only five Fenway Park contests between these two sides remaining in the regular season. Boston opened this set breathing fire 14 games back, and will finish it 14 games back, swallowing that fire back up in hopes of using it against the detestable Tampa Bay Rays.
In practice, though, the Yankees did what they had to do out of order, and in the only way they couldn’t do it where the pain would still linger past this series. Boston, injured and demoralized in the top of the 10th inning Saturday, could’ve been far further back. Miracles could’ve happened.
Instead, 24 hours later, the status quo returned, and everyone in the building not wearing gray — from Verdugo to Jeter Downs to the umpiring crew — preferred it that way.