Breaks go Yankees’ way at Fenway
The Yankees have not had many breaks go their way lately, such as Mark Teixeira’s MRI. One night after squandering a bevy of scoring opportunities in stranding 14 base runners, the Yankees capitalized on a big break offensively and another defensively in Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory over the Red Sox.
The way Boston starter Rick Porcello pitched it was a wonder the Yankees got on the board at all. There was no doubt about the one earned run charged to Porcello. Brett Gardner got all of a 0-1 pitch to hook it around Fenway Park’s Pesky Pole in right field for his 13th home run, in the eighth inning.
The inning that made the difference for the Yankees was the fifth. After a leadoff single by Alex Rodriguez, Porcello struck out Chase Headley and Greg Bird and seemed to have gotten the third out as well when Didi Gregorius hit a bouncing ball toward first base. What should have been an easy out went under the glove of first baseman Travis Shaw for an error that put runners on second and third.
Stephen Drew, whose bat has come alive the past week, lined a double to left-center that turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 Yankees lead. Gardner’s homer apart, Drew’s hit was the hardest allowed by Porcello, who had the Yankees walking back to the dugout for eight innings with 13 strikeouts, 10 of which were on called third strikes.
The two-run double was poetic justice for Drew, who was robbed of a hit in the third by second baseman Brock Holt with a nifty back-handed grab to start an inning-ending double play.
Michael Pineda may not have been as overpowering as Porcello but was just as effective in ending a personal three-game losing streak for his first winning decision since July 10, also at Boston. Only one of the Red Sox’ 18 outs against Pineda was recorded in the outfield as Pineda struck out seven batters and kept the ball in the infield for 10 outs.
Jackie Bradley doubled twice off Pineda. Bradley scored the Red Sox’ only run on a two-out single by Pablo Sandoval in the third. Two innings later, Bradley doubled with two outs, but Pineda kept him from scoring by getting a called third strike by Mookie Betts.
The other major break for the Yankees came in the eighth as the Red Sox threatened against Dellin Betances, who entered the game the previous inning. Singles by Betts and Zander Bogaerts gave the Sox runners on first and second with one out and David Ortiz at the plate.
On a double steal attempt, Yankees catcher Brian McCann threw to third baseman Chase Headley, who put the tag on Betts. Or did he? Third base umpire Vic Carapazza delayed his call to see if Betts’ foot was on the bag while Headley leaned over and kept his glove on Betts’ right ankle.
Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo challenged the call based on Betts’ claim that Headley pushed him off the bag, which is an illegal maneuver but one not covered on replays. The replay crew in Chelsea agreed with the call by the umpire, whose decision it was on the field to determine whether Betts was pushed off the bag or not. Carapazza obviously did not think so.
It was a big break for the Yankees because it meant instead of runners on second and third with one out it was runner on second and two out. Betances finished matters by striking out Ortiz. It was not a good night for Big Papi, who was punched out four times. In the ninth, Andrew Miller added three more Ks for his 29th save.
For a while there, it appeared as if the Yankees would get one more break as the Indians rallied in the ninth inning at Toronto to tie the score, but the Blue Jays prevailed in the 10th to maintain their 1 1/2-game lead in the American League East.