Rick Porcello put together a solid outing after a rough first inning and the offense knocked Michael Pineda around the ballpark to earn a nice win, Boston’s fifth in a row! The Sox’s win kept the Yankees from getting their 10,000th victory as a franchise and pushed New York one step closer to being eliminated from winning the division.
Top Play (WPA): Despite the loss, the top play of the game came from the Yankees side. After the Red Sox scored six times in the top of the first, the game looked like a foregone conclusion. But the Yanks got right back within striking distance in the bottom half of the opening frame. After having already pushed across two runs via a double, single, fielders choice and another double, Dustin Ackley smacked a two-run home run to right field (WPA: + .135) to get the Yankees within two.
As it turned out, the three-run home-run that Blake Swihart had hit in the top of the first inning (WPA: + .092) – his first of two home runs on the night – gave the Red Sox all the cushion they would need to win.
Bottom Play (WPA): With the Red Sox leading 7-4, Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single. At the time it was not entirely clear that Rick Porcello had settled in to the outing having had the rough first inning, and an eventful fourth in which he allowed a single and hit a batter. However, right after Gardner’s single he got Alex Rodriguez to hit into a 5-4-3 double play (WPA: – .081), which was started nicely by Deven Marrero.
Key Moment: Ackley’s home run in the bottom of the first got the Yankees to within a bloop-and-blast of tying the game. The score remained 6-4 until the top of the fifth, when Mookie Betts led off the inning with a solo home run to left field (WPA: + .085) that increased the Red Sox’s lead to a slightly more comfortable level. Always nice to see the #feats of Mookie on display.
Not so much a key moment on-field-wise, but a fun one came in the top of the sixth when Jerry Remy provided a funny story about playing wiffle ball with a guy who “played a little college ball.” The basic summary of the story is that Remy did not like a guy who was invited to a charity wiffle ball game. The guy was making sure to inform people that he had “played a little ball” and was taking things too seriously, striking everyone out when the intention of the event was to allow hits and encourage fun. In his chance at bat in the game Jerry wanted to send the guy a message but ended up grounding out meekly to second base. It still haunts him. You really need to hear him tell the story to be aware of how much it still bothers him. Regardless, the rapport between Jerry and Don Orsillo allows for this sort of story to happen on air. Don only has a few more games left in the Red Sox booth, so hopefully we get a few more Don and Jerry moments like this before Don is gone to his next stop.
Trend to Watch: As noted above, the game featured home runs from Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart. Seeing young players still hit for power this deep into a season is a welcome sign. Tim Britton pointed out on Twitter that the six home runs by the Red Sox in this series have been hit by players who are 25 years-old or younger. The two guys who went deep in last night’s game, Betts and Swihart, have higher slugging percentages in the second half than in the first. While Betts has moved up only a little bit from .464 to .480, Swihart has shown a large jump in performance, going from .323 to .415. Experience is certainly a factor in this improvement, so it is not only nice to see some evidence of learning/adjusting, but it is also great that fatigue from playing a longer season has not sapped them of their power. These are good signs for 2016.
Coming next: Game three of the series starts tomorrow at 7:05pm EDT with Wade Miley heading to the hill to take on the Yankees for the fourth time this season. Miley has struggled against the Yankees this year, posting a 5.60 RA9 against them, although his 2.97 FIP in those contests points to his pitching better than the results indicate. He will need to maintain his effectiveness as he progresses through the game better than he did in his last start (against the Rays last Thursday), when a rough sixth inning undid an otherwise solid outing. The Red Sox offense will be in for a tough challenge against Yankees’ starter Masahiro Tanaka (3.74 RA9, 3.95 FIP on the season), who has already beat them three times this season. However, in his outings against the Sox, Tanaka has been less than sharp, posting a 5.71 RA9 (5.15 FIP). Tanaka is coming back to the Yankees rotation after missing time with a hamstring injury, so the Sox’ offense can look to take advantage of any lingering issue and continue their reasonable success against him.
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