About Last Night: Yankees 6 - Red Sox 5
by Cary Greene
July 8, 2022
Big Story - With the Red Sox playing so much better of late, but trailing the Yankees big in the standings due to their horrific start to the season, the opening game last night of this key 4-game series was massively important to Boston and their fans sensed it. Unfortunately for the Boston fans, the Yankees scored early often and despite a valiant attempt, could not come back enough to win. The Yankees took the first game in fine fashion.
● Winning Pitcher: Gerrit Cole (8-2, 3.26 ERA) 6.0 IP / 6 H, 1 ER / 7 K, 3 BB / 94-59 PC-ST (63% Strikes)
● Losing Pitcher: Josh Winckowski (3-3, 4.06 ERA) 5.1 IP/ 5 H, 5 ER / 2 K, 5 BB / 98-52 PC-ST (53% Strikes)
● Yankee Home Runs: Josh Donaldson - his 8th (Grand-Slam, 3rd-inning off Winckowski), Aaron Hicks - his 5th (a 1-run shot that followed Donaldson’s slam, also off Winckowski)
● The Yankees are now 60-23 (.723) to start the season, the best record in the Majors.
● Last night’s win matches the second-best 83-game start in franchise history, trailing only the 1998 Yankees (63-20).
● The Yankees' 60 wins are tied for the third-most by a team in their first 82 decisions in the last 70 years (since 1953).
● The Yankees are now 23-5 in series-openers this season and 27-12 (.692) against the rugged American League East.
● Depth Matters, the Yankees have now used 21 Pitchers, 3 Catchers, 8 Infielders and 6 Outfielders this season - 38 players in all!
● With his start in left-field last night, Giancarlo Stanton has now played the outfield in 50% of his starts this season - a very positive sign indeed!
● Stolen Base Watch: The Yankees have now stolen more than twice as many bases as their opponents have this season (54-25).
● GDP Watch: Yankees have now grounded into 63 double-plays this year, the League Average is 58.
● LOB Watch: The Yankees have only left 542 runners on base this year, the League Average is 562. This is an amazingly positive trend for the Yankee offense.
○ According to Elias, the Yankees Aaron Judge, who had the night off last night, is the fourth Yankees player to hit 30 HR within his first 80 games of a season and was the eighth-fastest (in terms of games played) to reach the mark in club history, trailing only Babe Ruth (63G in 1928, 67G in 1930, 71G in 1921 and 79G in 1927), Roger Maris (75G in 1961 and 78G in 1960) and Mickey Mantle (77G in 1960).
○ DJ LeMaheiu, Matt Carpenter, Giancarlo Stanton, Isiah Kiner Falefa, and Joey Gallo went a combined 0-18 with 5 strikeouts last night.
Josh Donaldson gor the scoring started with a grand-slam in the top of the third.
Then, things got even better! Aaron Hicks hit a hanging slider from Winckowski out as he went “Belly to Belly” to make the score Yankees 5 - Red Sox nada!
Yankee killer Raphael Devers rocked a 2-run shot to right field, taking advantage of a down-and-in slider from Cole, as the Red Sox climbed right back into the game in the bottom of the third.
In the top of the fifth, Hicks scored on a weakly hit Jose Trevino pop up that somehow didn’t touch charging Red Sox first baseman Franchy Cordero’s glove. The play was at first officially scored a hit, then changed an error and later changed back to a hit for Trevino. Though the ball should have easily been caught, it’s generally accepted that if it doesn’t touch the fielder’s glove, a hit is in order!
The Red Sox then put runners on the corners in the bottom of the fifth and Gerrit Cole reached back and struck out Red Sox center field phenom Jarren Duran swinging on 100mph heat. After a mound visit from Matt Blake, perhaps Cole got a sense of false security from discussing how to handle the next batter, who was none other than Raphael Devers! Cole proceeded to throw a well-placed change-up but Devers didn’t fall for it and instead, he deposited the ball 425 feet to center field - all made possible by Cole walking the Red Sox number-nine hitter, Kevin Plawecki, previously in the inning. Suddenly the Donaldson grand-slam was minimized and the score was only 6-5 Yankees.
In the top of the seventh-inning Red Sox manager Alex Cora called on the man with the third best ERA in MLB, John Schreiber, who was yet another Red Sox waiver-pickup (from the pitching starved Tigers no less), who struck out Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton. Schreiber also has a 31.7% K-Rate and out of 154 batted balls off of him this season, only 6.5% of them have been barreled by opposing hitters. Suffice it to say, Schreiber is pretty filthy!
Wandy Peralta came on to work a 1-2-3 seventh-inning, getting Duran to strike out for the fourth time in the game. After the Yankees were held scoreless in the top of eighth, which was highlighted by what was Trevor Story’s best defensive play of the season as ranged far in the hole to his left to rob Isiah Kiner-Falefa of a hit, the stage was set. The Red Sox manager has raved about Trevor Story’s defense all season long, so me saying the play was his best of the season is meant to recognize that he routinely makes great plays, but this one belongs on ESPN this morning!
It came down to the Yankee bullpen versus the heart of the Red Sox lineup. Aaron Boone made a great decision leaving lefty Wandy Peralta to face Devers, who led off the inning by grounding out. Peralta would notch his eighth hold of the season for his efforts as manager Aaron Boone has begun increased his usage in high leverage situations ever since Yankee work-horse Chad Green went down with his season ending elbow injury and resulting TJS.
Then, Boone brought in Mike King who struck out J.D. Martinez, but walked Xander Bogarts before Alex Verdugo lined a bounder down the first-base line that Yankee first baseman DJ LeMahieu was in perfect position to play, as he collected the hot bounder with ease and stepped on the bag for the third out. King would later earn his 13th hold of the season for his nifty work. Boston was down to their final three-outs!
From there, Clay Holmes got Story to pop out, then struck Cordero before inducing our old friend, the resurgent Rob Refsnyder to tap out to the mound, en route to earning his 16h save of the season!
Player of the Game - Josh Donadlson, with a huge grand-slam! The ball was scorched at 107.3 mph and it traveled 429 feet!
● The Yankee bullpen - Wandy Peralta and Mike King were both able to get the job done yet again, handing the ball to Clay Holmes for yet another save!
● Joey Gallo increased his trade value on a J.D. Martinez soft pop fly, making a beautiful running catch, showing he never gives up on a ball. Note Aaron Hicks simultaneously diminishing his trade value by giving up on the looping fly ball.
● Tip of the cap to Raphael Devers who hit two home runs in the game and drove in 5-runs. All-Stars do what All-Stars do!
● Red Sox Bullpen pitched 4 scoreless innings, keeping the Red Sox 100% in a 1-run game heading into the bottom of the ninth inning.
Better to Forget
● Whatever it is, Gerrit Cole doesn’t like pitching at Fenway Park. Though he picked up the win, he’s now only 2-3 with a 5.45 ERA at Fenway. If the Yankees wind up playing Boston in the Playoffs, Aaron Boone will hopefully keep this stat in mind.
My Take - Any July or August game at Fenway Park between the Yankees and the Red Sox has a playoff-like atmosphere and last night’s ballgame certainly had that, despite the fact that the two teams will play each other a whopping 15 more times this season! Personally I love a great rivalry but I don’t need 19 games against the Red Sox every-year to be happy, which is why I wrote recently that I’m a fan of interleague play. I like variety, what can I say? Last night and judging from the electricity in the air, one would have thought that the American League Division Series was on the line though! MLB has us all fooled! They went and expanded the playoffs so the truth that no one wants to read is - many of these regular season games we’re enjoying don’t really matter much!
It’s hard to imagine that the Red Sox went 22-6 during the month of June and actually lost ground to the Yankees. The two teams are playing so well it’s actually unprecedented, they’re both red-hot. In fact, no two teams from the same division have ever played so well in a single month! What we’re seeing this season out of the Yankees is historically amazing!
Devers' 2-run blast in the bottom of the third showed that even when Cole is pitching well, he’s still vulnerable to the long ball, especially from a dangerous left-handed hitter. All the more reason not to walk runners ahead of at-bats by players like Devers. In last year's Wild-Card game, Kyle Schwarber served to further reinforce the notion that Cole needs to be more careful with key left-handed hitters. Other than two off-speed mistakes to Devers, Cole pitched a fine game, but evidence of this won’t be reflected on the stat-sheet unfortunately.
Once again the Yankees bullpen just keeps on doing what it’s done all season long. Yankees relievers have now allowed just 3 earned-runs in 34.1 innings-pitched, posting an amazingly low 0.79 ERA in this span. Last night, Wandy Peralta and Mike King were magnificent bridge men, taking the game to Yankee closer Clay Holmes, who fuster likes to remind me that the Pirates pretty much gave to the Yankees. To think I was upset at the time of the trade because I was (and still am) a big Hoy Park fan. What an acquisition it was!
Next Up - Game two of the series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park tonight will pit Yankee lefty Nestor Cortes JR (7-3 / 2.44 ERA / 91K) against a Boston starter who is yet to be determined. Cortes will make his 16th start of the season tonight and he’ll be pitching on five days' rest. He last pitched on Saturday at Cleveland, earning his seventh win of the season after allowing 1 earned-run in six innings (3H, 0BB, 6K, 1HR).
Cortes has allowed 3-runs-or-fewer in 13 of his 15 starts this season, including 2 runs-or-fewer in 11 or those starts and unbelievably, he’s allowed 1-run-or-fewer in eight starts while also registering four scoreless starts. That said, he seems to be tiring significantly as he adjusts to the highest work-load of his career. He’s still a respectable 2-2 with a 4.68 ERA over his last five starts but considering he was 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his first 10 starts, the trend is worth noting.
Game time is set for 7:10 pm, the temperature will be 78 degrees and skies will be partly cloudy.