By MyFM's Jake Archer - Well, after I watched the Red Sox game last night, I really needed the Celtics to win for my mental health. Fortunatley, they did. The Sox though, boy they had me steaming mad. I can't recall being this upset about a game in May, since well the last time the rivalry with the Yankees was alive about a decade ago. So in a way, it's good to be this invested because it means that baseball is back to mattering and being fun and the rivalry is thriving. It just stinks that right now, the Yanks cannot be stopped.
Last night, Rick Porcello was getting the ball for Boston. He's been the team's ace, even over Chris Sale, to this point in the season and he's historically done well against New York. The only reason he was pitching was because David Price has "carpal tunnel" which is a whole 'nother story that I'm not going to get into right now because I want to focus on the game and not go on an angry tangent. So with Porcello on the mound, I felt pretty good about Boston's chances. He'd be opposed by Masahiro Tanaka, a guy who is good but not great. I've never really thought a lot of Tanaka, he's just kind of there.
In the first inning, things got off to a bad start for Porcello. He allowed a leadoff double to Brett Gardner, who's been pretty anemic at the plate this season. Then Aaron Judge jumped on a fastball and singled to center to drive in the run. It had been four pitches, and the Sox were already down. The only solace I could take is that Porcello got Didi Gregorious to strikeout and Giancarlo Stanton to ground into a double play. The damage was limited and "Pretty Ricky" often has bad first innings before settling in.
The Sox offense came right back to take the lead in the second as well. Xander Bogaerts singled to left with one out and then Mitch Moreland hit a missile for a two-run homer to right-center. Moreland has been scorching hot lately and just needs to be in the lineup every day at this point. I don't care if we are sacrificing some defense by putting J.D. Martinez in left to move Hanley Ramirez to DH and Mitch to first, because Jackie Bradley Jr. has decided that he's allergic to getting hits and his defense is overrated anyway.
Porcello was touched up for three in the third, which is his worst outing of the year in just one inning. Again, it was the top of the lineup doing the work for New York. Gardner doubled, Judge walked and Stanton doubled to score them both with one out. The Yankees had tied it back up and Stanton was earning his pinstripes by beating up the Sox yet again. He moved over to third on a single by Gary Sanchez and then scored on a sac-fly by Aaron Hicks. It was 4-3 New York and Porcello clearly didn't have his best stuff.
Andrew Benintendi has gotten off to a very slow start this season but he launched a solo shot into right-center with one out in the fifth to tie it again. Porcello gave the run right back in the bottom half as Judge singled and took second on a throwing error by Porcello, Didi walked, Stanton was hit by a pitch and Sanchez lifted a sac-fly. It's actually impressive that Porcello limited the damage in this frame though. His offense would get his back with another run in the sixth. Bogey led off with a double and after Moreland moved him to third on a groundout, Tanaka was done. He'd thrown 91 pitches in just five and a third innings. His final line featured four runs on eight hits, two walks and three strikeouts.
Replacing Tanaka was Chad Green, who immediately gave up a sac-fly to Eduardo Nunez to close the book on Tanaka. The Yankee lead was just one and with two outs in the seventh, Green walked Benintendi. Right after the walk, Green hung a fastball out over the heart of the plate that Hanley absolutely demolished to left for a two-run ding dong. The Red Sox were back in front late and the momentum was back in the visiting dugout! The problem was, the Sox had missed a lot of opportunities to score already and they'd squander another in the eighth when they could have tacked on some insurance. That would end up being huge.
After New York got out of a jam in the top of the eighth, Matt Barnes was coming in for Boston. As soon as I saw him I knew that the Sox were cooked. I fundamentally don't understand how Barnes or Heath Hembree get the ball in high leverage situations. I really don't get how they are even in the big leagues! They both stink and Matt Barnes proved it again. He allowed a double to Neil Walker, just like Hembree the night before, and then the runner moved to third on a groundout. After walking Gleyber Torres, Barnes was done. He'd left a mess for Craig Kimbrel, who'd be asked to come up with a five-save on the road against the top of the Yankees order with runners on the corners. It was a tall task and I felt for him, just as I had felt for Joe Kelly the night before.
Well, Kimbrel went to 3-0 on Gardner and then had to throw strikes from there. The count went full and Kimbrel unleashed a 97-mph heater that Gardner roped over the head of Mookie Betts in center for a 2-RBI triple. New York hadn't just tied it up, they'd taken the lead. At this point, I knew the game was over. Yankee Stadium was rocking and it'd be another demoralizing loss. Well, little did I know that Judge was going to come up and smoke a two-run shot to center to pad the lead at 9-6. I can't imagine anything worse. I was sick to my stomache thinking about how good the Yankees were and how loud the Bronx crowd probably was.
You know that feeling where you just are overwhelmed by something being such a tall task? It feels like almost inevitable that things will go wrong and part of you wants to just back away? That's how it felt watching the game last night. The Yankees are a runaway train and at this moment a much better team. In most situations I would say the Sox had a shot, but they just didn't. I watched the ninth inning but I really didn't need to. Aroldis Chapman rolled through us and New York had won it, 9-6. That bum Matt Barnes took the loss, someone named Jonathan Holder got the win and Chapman got the save.
Now New York has taken over first place and won something like 17 of their last 18. Over that stretch the Sox have gone 8-9, so they haven't been good. It's literally just a reverse of what happened to start the season when the Sox started like 17-2 and New York was 9-9. We beat them 2 out of 3 at home and hopefully they'll only get 2 out of 3 this time around. It stinks because we could have buried them, and it stinks that we've let them back in partially by just stepping aside in the head to head matchup. It also stinks because it was supposed to be a showdown (and both these games were winnable) and now we're going back to Boston with our tail between our legs regardless of the outcome tonight. One more thing that stinks is that some major issues are arising and we've had a much easier schedule than the Yanks to this point. The season is young though, and while bragging rights are fun, winning tonight to take a share of first place back would be good. New York will cool off and we'll just see who can play better baseball over the rest of the season. It's May and it's a marathon, not a spring.
The Yankees took the series and now will try to sweep us tonight with the surging C.C. Sabathia (who is always good against Boston) on the bump. We'll counter with Eduardo Rodriguez, who I have very little faith in. Part of me wants them to throw Chris Sale out there instead so that we can salvage something out of this. Ugh. Tune in for first pitch at 7:05 though! No matter what this is entertainment and each of the games so far have felt like playoff matchups. You can hear it here on MyFM 101.3!
*One final note: It's easy to overreact to all of this, and I'm sure the Boston media is, but the schedules moving forward favor the Sox as well. The biggest competition they have the rest of the month is Atlanta while the Yankees have to deal with Washington, Anaheim and Houston.
*But seriously, the Sox need to win tonight or I'm going to write a strongly worded recap tomorrow and probably bang my head against the wall.