An absurd baseball game at Fenway Park.
Thursday was bananas. I’m really not sure what to say. Things were pretty normal early on with the offense coming up empty in the first half of the game. Then rain came and delayed things for an hour, and all hell broke loose. It looked like a baserunning blunder cost the Red Sox the game, but then they came back in the bottom of the ninth against Chad Green to send it to extras. That worked against them, though, when Matt Barnes gave the lead right back to New York despite retiring all three batters he faced. Fortunately, the Yankees bullpen is depleted and Brooks Kriske threw four wild pitches in the bottom of the inning to help the Red Sox walk it off. In a season full of crazy, come-from-behind victories, this is instantly one of the wildest.
The Red Sox came into Thursday’s series opener against the Yankees rolling, particularly at the plate. After a quiet weekend in the Bronx with the bats, they unleashed 11 homers against Blue Jays pitching over a two-game stretch earlier this week. It had appeared they were ready to get their revenge against the Yankees, trying to get some offense going against lefty Jordan Montgomery. They did not succeed.
Instead, they reverted to something that really resembled what we saw last weekend. Montgomery retired each of the first six batters he faced, with the no-hitter first being broken up in the third thanks to a leadoff single from Alex Verdugo. This would be the best chance in the first half of this game for Boston, and at the time it was still a scoreless tie. A couple batters after Verdugo’s base hit, Michael Chavis ripped one down the left field line that bounced off the side wall, holding him to a single but putting runners on the corners with just one out.
It was a big spot for the offense, but Kiké Hernández couldn’t put it in play, going down swinging with a strikeout. Following a wild pitch and a walk, it was up to Xander Bogaers with the bases full. He just missed one for what appeared to be a 450-foot foul ball, but then eventually lined out to shortstop to end the inning with the Red Sox still looking for their first run on the night.
As I said, it was still a scoreless game at that point, and that’s because Red Sox starter Tanner Houck was dealing. He got this start after grabbing a three-inning save against New York last weekend, and he looked just as good through his first three innings here. He did allow one single, but that was all as he worked in six strikeouts to get through those three scoreless frames.
Unfortunately, the fourth presented more trouble. It always seems to happen this way after the offense blows a chance, and sure enough Houck lost his control to start the inning. The righty issued two straight walks to start the inning, putting himself in immediate trouble. He got a big strikeout after that, but then in the next at bat he threw a slider down and away that just barely spun away from Christian Vázquez. It was called a passed ball but could have gone either way, though the most important result was Giancarlo Stanton moving from first to second. That was a huge development, because Houck ended up getting a ground ball right to the shortstop. Normally it would’ve been an inning-ending double play, but instead it brought home a run and gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
The Red Sox offense continued to have no answers in the bottom of the inning, and Houck came back onto the mound in the fifth with rain suddenly pouring down from the sky. They tried to play through it, and Houck got two quick outs before giving up an infield single. At that point, the tarp was brought out, but with the field already in shambles it was a lengthy delay. Things started back up in about an hour, but Houck’s night — which was mostly fantastic as his slider was at its best most of the evening — was done, with Josh Taylor coming on to finish the fifth.
He’d get another inning in the sixth as well, as the offense went down in order in the bottom of the fifth before Taylor kept the score at 1-0 for the bottom of the sixth. Boston had the top of the order coming up against Montgomery for a third time on the night, but they still got two quick outs to start. Bogaerts was able to keep the inning alive with a base hit though, and that ended the night for Montgomery. With Sal Romano now in the game, J.D. Martinez came up for a big spot, and he came through with a single of his own. Suddenly there were runners on the corners, and the Red Sox had another opportunity with two outs and Hunter Renfroe coming to the plate. Once again, they failed to bring the runs home, with Renfroe ending the inning on a weak fly ball to right field.
But the Red Sox were again able to get a little cooking in the seventh as well, with Verdugo and Dalbec coming through with back-to-back one-out singles, putting two on with one out for Chavis. It looked like he may have ended the inning on a ground ball over to third base, but Tyler Wade bobbled it, and with the error no outs were recorded and Boston had the bases full. In the next at bat, it again didn’t look great off the bat as Hernández hit a fly ball to shallow center field. Verdugo and Carlos Febles took a major chance, though, sending the runner to the plate. Verdugo had a great slide away from the tag to sneak in, and the game was tied up at one.
The gutsy base running quickly turned stupid. Devers came up next and hit a weak ground ball to the right side. Gleyber Torres made the stop, but had no chance at a play so he held it. That should have loaded the bases for Bogaerts, but instead Dalbec was not stopped by Febles and continued on home. He was easily thrown out, ending the inning at home plate.
It was a frustrating end to the inning, but we were now tied up and Adam Ottavino was coming in. He didn’t get the start he wanted with a leadoff walk, and then DJ LeMahieu quickly stole second on a play where Vázquez likely gets him with a good throw. Brett Gardner followed that up with a really good at bat, working another walk to put the first two men on. After a base hit that was bobbled by Verdugo in left field, LeMahieu easily came around to give the Yankees their lead right back. They’d add one more on a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly, and now the Red Sox had a two-run deficit to make up with six more outs to go.
Instead, they put together a listless eighth, hitting three weak ground balls for an easy 1-2-3 inning. After Yacksel Ríos tossed a scoreless ninth, the Red Sox had one more chance. They’d get one man on with one out after a single from Verdugo, his third of the game. For some reason, Alex Cora let Bobby Dalbec face Chad Green, and it actually worked as Dalbec smacked a base hit of his own to put two men on with just one out. That brought Kevin Plawecki in as a pinch hitter — another strange decision with both Jarren Duran and Franchy Cordero on the bench — with Duran coming in to run at first representing the tying run. Plawecki lined one into left field for the second out, bringing Hernández to the plate.
Hernández came through yet again. He knocked in the first run for Boston on the night, and then he knocked in two more with a double out to left field. Duran’s speed paid off, and the game was once again tied. Now, Devers came up with the winning run standing on second base, but he just got under one and the fly out pushed the game into extras.
As we headed into extras, it was Matt Barnes coming on for the tenth with the top of the Yankees order coming up. He quickly got a ground ball back to the mound that moved the Manfredball runner up to third base, and then the Yankees got the go-ahead run in on a sacrifice fly.
So Barnes retired all three batters he faced, but was still on the hook for a loss if the offense didn’t pick him up. They were going up against Brooks Kriske, and the first pitch he threw was in the dirt and got by the catcher, allowing Manfredball runner Devers to advance up to third base. Kriske threw yet another one in the dirt after that, and the Red Sox tied the game without even having a full at bat. After walking Bogaerts, he threw yet another wild pitch to put the runner up to second, and then he’d get up to third on another wild pitch.
So the Red Sox had the win just 90 feet away, but Kriske was able to get Martinez swinging. But Boston would need just one more pitch. Renfroe hit the first pitch he saw into right field for a sacrifice fly, ending the game and giving Boston the win.
The victory pushed the Red Sox record to 59-38. With the Rays also pulling off a come-from-behind win, Boston maintains their one-game lead in the American League East.
The Red Sox and Yankees continue their series on Friday with Eduardo Rodriguez set to face off against Gerrit Cole. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.