The Boston Red Sox just wrapped up a clean four-game sweep over the New York Yankees to extend their lead in the American League East to a whopping 9.5 games as they now sit with a staggering 79-34 record. Boston entered the weekend without ace Chris Sale scheduled to pitch and many in the assembled media said they would be satisfied with a split just to keep New York from gaining ground in the division race and boy did the Red Sox go above and beyond that, much like they have all season.
On Thursday, Boston kicked their teeth in. Brian Johnson got the start to replace Sale’s spot in the rotation and while he did cough up some runs in the early going putting New York in front, he held tight and kept the Sox in the game long enough to blow it wide open. C.C. Sabathia was chased after just three innings and two earned runs due to a high pitch count and a number of guys allowed on base and a towering blast by Steve Pearce. Jonathan Holder would come in for the 4th inning and promptly surrender 7 earned runs when Boston blew the ball-game open. Most notably, Pearce hit a towering go-ahead three-run homer in the inning his second home run of three on the night that further inflicted damage on the Yankees pitching staff. Boston piled up 15 runs in route to a 15-7 win and new-comer Ian Kinsler contributed with three hits and a double in his second game for Boston.
On Friday Night, it was the Rick Porcello show. First it started with Porcello drilling Brett Gardner on an 0-2 pitch in the top of the first inning. The Yankees did not take too kindly to that as Luis Severino buzzed the tower on Mookie Betts on his first pitch of the night causing the temperature of all to heat up. Both benches were warned, and when Boston skipper Alex Cora came out to argue his side getting warned he was promptly sent to the showers early with Ron Roenicke left to manage the rest of the ball-game. Steve Pearce picked up where he left off on Friday night launching a two-run bomb to left that would wind up being all the run support “Slick Rick” would need in his best outing of the campaign.
The 2016 Cy Young Award winner put on an absolute pitching clinic on Friday tossing a complete game one-hit performance and was untouched outside of a solo homer by Miguel Andujar. Porcello pilled up 9 K’s with zero walks and only the one hit mixing his secondary pitches to perfection with his explosive two-seamer all night long. He was the first pitcher to toss a complete game throwing less than 90 pitches since, well he did it himself against the O’s in 2016. Efficient, effective and exciting. That was Porcello on Friday night in Fenway during a 4-1 victory. Porcello improved to 14-4 with a 3.84 ERA on the season and an impressive 1.16 WHIP.
On Saturday it was the same story as Friday with a 4-1 win. A two-run homer by Mitch Moreland and a solo shot by J.D. Martinez putting him back in the league-lead provided the offense for the afternoon while Nathan Eovaldi continued his stellar pitching for the Boston Red Sox. Eovaldi scatted three hits across eight scoreless innings picking up four strikeouts and even touched 100 mph on the gun during his last inning of work. He’s now thrown 15 scoreless innings in his first two starts for Boston picking up a pair of wins and showing just how valuable of an acquisition he has been for Mr. Dave Dombrowski.
Finally, there was last night. David Price took on his arch-nemesis the New York Yankees in Fenway and responded with six shutout innings to begin his night. Mookie Betts provided a solo homer against Masahiro Tanaka to put Boston in the lead before it all unraveled in the 7th inning. Price was pulled after the first two reached against him in the inning in favor of Heath Hembree who loaded up the bases after failing to record an out to a bunting Shane Robinson. Aaron Hicks generated the lead with a ground-ball to Xander Bogaerts that he whiffed on for his first fielding error of the season. Stanton stretched the lead with a double and it was a 4-1 game after a four-run 7th inning. That’s got to be enough to salvage a win in the finale, right? Not so fast.
Enter Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, battling the heat and humidity of Boston on a Sunday night was drenched with sweat and walked Sandy Leon and Mookie Betts after striking out Brock Holt which brought up Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi battled, but took a called third strike on a nasty slider for the second out of the inning bringing up the locked-in Steve Pearce who would also battle and work a walk to load the bases and bring up the best hitter in baseball. J.D. Martinez wasted no-time in ripping the first pitch fastball into center field chasing across a pair of runs and making it a 4-3 game with two outs in the 9th inning. Xander Bogaerts would step in with redemption from the error on his mind and caught a break on what should have been the game ended ground-out to third wound up being the game-tying play on a throwing error by rookie Andujar. Ballgame tied and heading to extra innings.
Matt Barnes pitched the top half for Boston and quickly got them 1-2-3. Leon came up with the two-out base hit in the 10th and took second on a wild-pitch from Holder. Betts was intentionally walked and the Tony Renda made his major league debut running for Leon at second as the potential winning run. Andrew Benintendi stepped in, cranked a base hit through the shift and the Red Sox walked it off to cap off the epic sweep at Fenway in a five-plus hour finale.
The Red Sox did it all in this series. They showed just how complete of a team they are and proved they never give up no matter the odds or circumstances. They won with power-hitting and a slug-fest on Friday, back-to-back incredible outings by Porcello & Eovaldi on Friday and Saturday then used some drama to comeback and stun the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball. All in all, they beat the Yankees into submission and just stretched the lead to 9.5 games. With just 51 games to go in the regular season, Boston might have just put this division race to bed with this Fenway beat-down. New York now has to worry about being caught by the red-hot Oakland A’s after a season-long losing streak continued through the four-game set with their arch rivals.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank