What a difference a flight makes. The Yankees just finished a series in Texas where the highs hit mid to upper 80’s. Upon arriving in Boston, the Yankees were reminded that in some parts of the country, it’s still very much springtime with highs peaking in the low-50’s and a game time temperature of 47°. Even the Red Sox and their fans were bundled up. Basically, the Green Monster was cold.
But then the Monster’s always been a little cold to the Yankees.
Well, the Yankees did a decent job a keeping Fenway chilly in its own right beginning with Alex Rodriguez’s great home run to center field to lead off the 2nd inning to give the Yankees an early lead. Starlin Castro later hit a beautiful 1-out triple, but then a double play ball tossed in from left field came in to the catcher at home who tagged out Castro trying to make the score. Even a little dance around the tag and home plate wasn’t enough. Castro was out.
But Castro overall had a pretty decent offensive night once again, going 2-for-3 and remaining the leader on the batting average board at .304. He is really what the Yankees needed at 2nd base, and the best part is that he’s hitting in the bottom third of the lineup every night while the others struggle through a team-wide offensive slump. Just hope he can keep up his swings when the rest of the team catches up to his great example. (And soon, please!)
In the 5th, with 2 outs, Gregorius was hit by a pitch, moved to 2nd on Ellsbury’s single, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s single. But even with those speedy runners in scoring position after a wild pitch, a pop out stranded runners on base (again).
So the Yankees kept that lead for the majority of the game, as Masahiro Tanaka gave it his best shot today to fend off the cold and the foul wind that always threatens when the Yankees are in town. And for the first 6 innings of his outing tonight, he was just stellar. Coming out to pitch the 7th might have been too much, but he still gave it his all. And after all, what else have we come to expect from Tanaka? 99 pitches over just shy of 7 innings, 6 allowed hits, no walks, 5 Tanaka-style strikeouts, and just 2 runs.
Yep, it’s those 2 runs that made the difference. In the 7th inning, with 2 outs and 2 runners on base with singles, the Yankees were looking for that final out to get out of this sticky situation, but that 99th pitch made it a no-decision for Tanaka when it became a 2-RBI double. Out came Tanaka, in came Dellin Betances to shut it down — a fly out to get that 3rd out of the inning.
But Betances had his own set of issues in the 8th inning. A 1-out single set up the winning strategy for the Red Sox. What is their winning strategy? Send up the only guy left on the team from the 2004, 2009, and 2013 World Series Championship teams and retiring this year to hit a massive Green Monster 2-run home run.
To be fair, both home runs in tonight’s game (both hit by legends in their own rights) featured some cool after-effects. Rodriguez gave his home run hitting bat to a kid in the stands after his jog around the bases. And Ortiz hugged the 3 kids of his former teammate (now a current MLB broadcaster) in one fell swoop after his trot. Always nice to give back a little, especially to the kids, when you do something pretty great.
Final score: 4-2 Red Sox.
Aroldis Chapman is spending his suspension well, getting workouts and extended Spring Training in the Tampa complex. And somewhere along the way becoming a U.S. citizen. Chapman defected from Cuba nearly 7 years ago and began the process of applying for permanent citizenship last year while he was still with the Reds. Today, he posted a picture from the US Immigration Office, posing with his documents and the officers who awarded him his citizenship. Welcome to America and America’s Team! Chapman returns to baseball as a Yankee May 9th.