“Gritty” was the way radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling described the Yankees’ 8-4 win against the Red Sox on Wednesday and, while grit can sometimes be a dangerous word to use in baseball, it seems like the perfect way to describe a wild rollercoaster of a night.
Yankees starters have had some struggle filling up innings lately, exposing the thin middle relief corps of the bullpen. So, even beyond the injury concerns, Nathan Eovaldi’s exit following a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 inning in the first was the team’s worst nightmare. Yet somehow, this thin and always-changing bullpen pulled through, limiting a high-powered Red Sox offense to four runs over eight innings. Newly-minted Yankees Tommy Layne and Blake Parker were responsible for three of those runs, with Chasen Shreve allowing the fourth, but Nick Goody, Tyler Clippard, and Adam Warren all turned in scoreless performances. Thrust into a bad situation with a squad largely devoid of talent, the Yankees’ bullpen buckled down and gave the offense a chance to win…
…and that’s exactly what happened. Didi Gregorius gave the team their first run on his 14th home run of the season in the fifth inning, setting the team up for a huge seventh inning that won’t soon be forgotten. It started with, of course, a Gregorius single, a Sanchez single, and a Romine single to score Gregorius. Three batters later (including an Alex Rodriguez pinch-hit flyout) Jacoby Ellsbury singled, Chase Headley singled, and Mark Teixeira walked to tie the game at four. Starlin Castro came to the plate, and on the first pitch of the at bat laced a two-run double to left field.
A five-run seventh was followed up by a two-run eighth, punctuated by a massive home run by Gary Sanchez, the first of his major league career. Two walks and a single, plus two wild pitches, scored an additional pair of runs, making it 8-4.
This should be an uplifting, gritty, and exciting win for the Yankees, but after the game we’ll be reminded of Nathan Eovaldi’s injury. He exited with elbow discomfort after showing diminished velocity in the first inning, and the situation is even more frightening given the fact that he missed all of September last season with elbow inflammation. More information should come out over the next two days, but Eovaldi could be headed for another lengthy DL stint.
The Play: Starlin Castro doubles in two (+.285 WPA)
Undoubtedly the biggest play of the game, Starlin Castro broke the tie with a huge double to score two. Given the uncertain circumstances surrounding the Yankees’ torn apart bullpen, a tie game was far from comforting for New York. On the other hand, a two-run lead felt much better. Castro hasn’t had the greatest season, but he came in the clutch here.
Yankees: Gary Sanchez (3-4, HR, 2 R, 1 RBI)
Red Sox: Sandy Leon (2-3, 2 R, BB)
The Highlight: Gary Sanchez’s first home run
Although it didn’t drastically change the course of this game, who could possibly not smile when Gary Sanchez went deep for his first home run of his major league career. Sanchez has had plenty of his ups and downs as a prospect, but things have come together over the past two seasons and Sanchez’s huge power has showed up in the majors in his short time in the majors this season. This 426-foot blast proved that point.
The Yankees will close out the Boston series with Michael Pineda (5.17 ERA) facing Eduardo Rodriguez (5.93 ERA). Rodriguez will start in place of knuckleballer Steven Wright, who was scratched with a shoulder injury. Barring any further weirdness, Alex Rodriguez should start in his second-to-last game as a Yankee.
Source: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports