Big Papi comes up small this time

It figured that Tuesday night’s game would come down to David Ortiz threatening to break the Yankees’ hearts once again. Big Papi, who is retiring as a player at the end of the season, is making his final appearance at Yankee Stadium this week. The Yankees are planning to honor him Thursday night, which is something the team’s fans would likely not have welcomed if Ortiz had done something a lot more damaging than striking out to end the game.

The Yankees were clinging to a two-run lead in the top of the ninth inning when Ortiz stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and two out against Tyler Clippard. Ortiz went down swinging to conclude a 0-for-5 night. Big Papi stranded six base runners in his at-bats, which is not something the Yankees have seen from him very often.

What the Yankees have seen often, especially this season, has been success against David Price. All the Yanks’ runs in the 6-4 victory came against the lefthander, who has been a punching bag for them this year. In five starts against the Yanks, Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA in 29 2/3 innings. The Yankees hit .373 with a .595 slugging percentage in 126 at-bats against Price this year.

The Yanks build leads of 3-0 and 4-2 on the strength of home runs by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. Sanchez’s two-run shot in the first inning was his 20th home run of the season, once again tying Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves for the major-league record for the quickest to that total in history just as the rookie catcher had done with his 18th and 19th. Gregorius also reached 20 for the season, extending his career high.

The Red Sox struck back with two runs off starter Luis Cessa in the sixth inning and two more off Tommy Layne in the seventh. That brought Price even before a couple of guys named Austin thrust the Yankees ahead once more.

Austin Romine lined a single to left to lead off the seventh. Tyler Austin followed with an opposite-field homer to right that proved the deciding blow. Yankees pitchers did a good job holding down the middle of Boston’s potent batting order as Ortiz, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez were a combined 0-for-12.

The Yankees picked up a game on the Orioles, who lost in Toronto, but still trail Baltimore for the second American League wild card spot by four games with five remaining, the last three against the Birds at the Stadium. The Yankees’ 81st victory guaranteed them a non-losing record for the 24th consecutive season.

The Blue Jays paid a heavy price for instigating two benches-clearing incidents Monday night at Rogers Centre. J.A. Happ’s hitting Chase Headley in the second inning as retaliation for Luis Severino plunking Josh Donaldson the previous inning resulted in players on both clubs rushing onto the field.

Toronto reliever Joaquin Benoit sustained a torn left calf muscle during the scrum and is out for the remainder of the season, a major blow to the Blue Jays, who hold the firs AL wild card position. In addition, second baseman Devon Travis jammed his surgical left shoulder during the second altercation after Severino plugged Justin Smoak in the bottom of the inning and was not in the Jays lineup Tuesday night.

The Yankees set a club record Monday night when Layne got the save in the 7-5 victory. Layne became the ninth pitcher on the staff to record a save this year. The others are Aroldis Chapman with 20, Dellin Betances with 12, Andrew Miller with nine, Clippard with two and Chad Green, Ivan Nova, Blake Parker and Chasen Shreve with one apiece. Chapman, Miller and Nova have since been traded. The Yanks are the first major league club with nine pitchers earning saves in the same season since the Rays did it in 2009.

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