As in New York last weekend, the Red Sox won two-out-of-three this weekend for another satisfying series victory.
It’s always fun to beat the Yankees, but it’s even more satisfying besting your rival for the division crown. Sure, winning the Wild Card spot beats sitting at home when the postseason begins, but not by much. The first real prize of the postseason is the advantage of being the division leader.
Sunday’s 5-1 smack down didn’t feel like a sure thing. Though Boston led right from the start on a Jackie Bradley triple that scored two in the second, the Yankees made it a one-run game in the fifth on a Brett Gardner solo home run. Once again, though, the Sox broke away in the late innings, scoring in the sixth and twice again in the eighth.
Bradley’s triple was his third of the season and 16th of his career, ten of those coming with men on base. The last player with a go-ahead triple against the Yankees at Fenway was Nomar Garciaparra on August 30, 2003. Jackie has now driven in at least one run in each of his last four games against the Bombers.
For the Yankees, it was the first time they’ve lost this season when Gardner homers. They had been 16-0 in such games.
In another solid outing, Rick Porcello allowed just one run on three Yankee hits, including Gardner’s home run. Despite giving up a career-high XX home runs in a single season, Porcello has allowed two or fewer earned runs over 6.0+ innings in each of his six starts against the Yankees at Fenway, the longest such streak to being a Red Sox career since at least 1913.
The Sox bullpen, back to its old self, got three perfect innings from Brandon Workman, Addison Reed, and Craig Kimbrel. Workman has now made 12 straight scoreless appearances (14.1 total innings pitched).
Sunday’s was the third time this season the Yankees have been held to three or fewer hits in a game, the first time for Sox pitching since September 28, 2016.
Yankees starter Sonny Gray worked 5.0 innings, allowing two runs on seven Red Sox hits. It was Gray’s 115th career start and his first ever without a strikeout.
Aaron Judge, whose positive first-half narrative has been somewhat eclipsed by his second-half strikeouts, whiffed for a 37th straight game on Sunday. He had already surpassed the major league record for consecutive games with a strikeout in a single season. He’s now tied with pitcher Bill Stoneman for most such games ever. Stoneman’s record spanned the 1971-72 seasons.
Clutch Production From Bottom of the Order
Bradley, batting ninth on Sunday for a 15th time this season, plated the first three Boston runs, all coming with two outs.
The Red Sox now have American League-best 28 two-out RBI from their No. 9 hitters, a list that, in addition to Bradley, includes 36 games from Deven Marrero, 14 games apiece from Christian Vázquez and Marco Hernández, 13 from Sandy León, 10 from Tzu-Wei Lin, 8 from Brock Holt and a handful of games from seven other players.
Nearly 40% of Boston’s two-out RBI from their No. 9 hitters this season (11 of 28) have come just this month, the most in baseball.
Especially in the late going, the Sox bottom of the order has shined this season. The Sox lead all of baseball in 2017 with 29 RBI from No. 9 batters from the seventh inning on.
León, batting eighth on Sunday, was 2-for-3 with double in the eighth inning that scored Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland. The hit brought to an end an 11-game hitless streak vs the Yankees for León, the longest by a Boston non-pitcher since 1913. Nevertheless, León is now 13-for-42 (.310) over the last three homestands.
No. 8 and No. 9 batters have combined for 50 Red Sox RBIs coming in or after the seventh inning this season, the most in the majors.
History Without A Hit
Even without the benefit of a hit, Red Sox newcomer Rafael Devers managed to make more history on Sunday. Devers was 0-for-3 but drew his 9th career walk and has reached base in 19 of his 21 career games, including each of his last nine.
The only other hitter ever in American League history to reach safely in as many as 19 of his first 21 games at age 20 or younger is Hall of Famer Ted Williams, who went 19-for-21 in 1939.