Game 88: NYY vs. BOS — Dramatic rivalry in 16 innings

Well, the rivalry is nothing if not a show for the dramatic. Five hours and fifty minutes, 16 very long innings, a protested game, weird base running, 16 total pitchers, and 36,936 fans. So, it’s also apparently the longest game between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway since June 4, 1966 (which also went 16 innings). Fortunately for the Yankees, today’s (or rather tonight’s) game turned out much better.

Honestly, most of the regular part of today’s game was a pitching duel between Luis Severino and the Red Sox’s ace pitcher (who also started the All-Star Game just 4 days ago). They both kept things close, with their stats nearly parallel (except the Red Sox’s start had 13 whopping strikeouts, his true specialty on display). Severino threw 114 pitches in his 7 innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and a run, striking out just 6 Boston batters. That lone allowed run came in the 3rd inning. With 1 out, Severino gave up 2 walks and a single to load up the bases. A sacrifice fly easily scored the lead runner.

But that would be it for the Red Sox all afternoon and into the night. Clippard and Betances closed out the rest of the regular 9 innings, breezing through the Red Sox lineup.

It looked like the Yankees were going to be shut out of tonight’s game right until that 9th inning. Lead-off hitter Matt Holliday planted the 3rd pitch of the at-bat into the Green Monster seats, a big solo home run to tie up the game. So, the game went into extra innings. Lots of extra innings.

In the 10th, Shreve got into a bit of trouble giving up 2 singles, but then Warren got him out of it with 3 great outs to get out of the jam. Then it would be reliever Jonathan Holder who would shoulder most of the extra innings load with 3 truly fantastic innings. His 41 pitches sailed through the Red Sox batters. And Chapman’s 14th was quite a bit better than his blown save last night. And once again, the Yankees threw their weight behind another reliable reliever in Ben Heller who took the final 2 innings and held the Red Sox to that lone run, adding 3 great strikeouts, earning the win.

The Yankees’ bullpen rose to the occasion and became the ‘pen they’ve been earlier this year, the one that helped the team reach 1st in the division (a spot they no longer occupy). So, it’s only fitting the current 1st place holder also had a pretty good bullpen and held off the Yankees bats for most of the game. It wasn’t until the top of the 16th the Yankees found their opportunity.

Ellsbury led-off with a double, moved to 3rd on Headley’s single, and then scored on Didi Gregorius’ single to break the tie. Austin Romine’s single scored Headley, and Torreyes’ sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to scoring position before Gardner was intentionally walked. Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly scored Gregorius to ensure the extra insurance run for the Yankees’ eventual victory.

Final score: 4-1 Yankees, in 16 innings.

I know I wasn’t the only one that was glad this was an East Coast-based game (that started at 4pm EST), and not a West Coast night game (that started at 10pm EST). Been there, done that. Those aren’t fun nights, even when the Yankees do end up winning.

There was a bit of a weird play in the top of the 11th inning. So, Holliday worked a walk, and the Red Sox changed relievers. The new pitcher got Ellsbury to hit into a ground out of sorts. The fielder tagged 2nd as he threw back to the 1st baseman hoping for a double play. However, it wasn’t a good throw and bounced off Ellsbury’s leg as he tagged 1st base. To complicate things, Holliday decided to head back to 1st base for some weird reason, causing a bit of a clog-up and confusion as the 1st baseman tried to catch the errant throw (as it rolled past them all into foul territory beyond 1st) and figure out why Holliday came back to 1st. Holliday jumped up and ran to 2nd thinking he was safe there.

After nearly 10 minutes of replay, review, and manager arguments, it was ruled that Holliday was out at 2nd and Ellsbury safe at 1st, no interference (despite what the silly Red Sox-leaning broadcasters seemed bent on arguing) or anything beyond bad base-running by Holliday. And the Red Sox decided to play the rest of the game under protest. Seeing as nothing came of Ellsbury still being safe on base, I doubt the protest will amount to much. In fact, in the decades such an option was available, only one game has picked up and resumed after review (the infamous “Pine Tar Game” in 1983).

But here’s what I’m thinking: I think Holliday didn’t see the infielder tag 2nd, assumed it was a line drive, and headed back to 1st thinking he’d be doubled off the base. Or something to that extent. In other words, the call was right, and Holliday misread the scenario. It caused some confusion, but nothing came out of it. So in the end, does it matter? No, because they still had to play 5 more innings beyond this to figure out the winner of the game.

With a double-header scheduled for tomorrow, I imagine there’s going to be quite a few roster moves tomorrow. Especially as the only bullpen pitcher not used was Chad Green. I would think a lot of “fresh arms” will be pulled up from Scranton in lieu of the doubleheader, and I suppose the 26th player (allowed for doubleheader days) would be an extra bench player. But I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again. So we’ll see how it all plays out, and pray for a couple of easy regular games.

Go Yankees!

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