Red Sox clinch third straight AL East title after dismantling Yanks
The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees met in a potential playoff preview when they squared off in the Bronx for a three-game series from Sept. 18 to 20. While the Yankees would take two of the three games, it was Boston that got to celebrate on the field as they wrapped up their third consecutive American League East title.
It was the first meeting between the two teams since a four-game sweep at Fenway Park in early August, during which the Sox all but eliminated New York from serious contention for the division title. The Red Sox, in the middle of a historic season, were coming off a series victory at home against the New York Mets, during which their lineup struggled to produce runs and their bullpen looked vulnerable.
The Yankees, coming off a disappointing series loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, needed wins to continue holding off the surging Oakland Athletics for the top wild-card spot. The series kicked off with former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for the Red Sox. The opposing pitcher was J.A. Happ for the Yankees. Eovaldi baffled the Yankees for six innings, allowing only two hits before giving way to the bullpen.
Happ was almost as effective; he allowed one run in his six innings of work. Veteran reliever Brandon Workman came on for Boston in the seventh and immediately walked the first two batters before he was lifted so rookie Ryan Brasier could face first baseman Neil Walker with two men on.
Walker would drill a long home run into the right field seats that brought the Yankee Stadium crowd to its feet and gave New York a 3-1 lead. In the ninth inning, the Yankees would twice make errors while trying to record the game-ending double play, but Zach Britton would record the last out to close out the 3-2 win.
The Yankees would score early and often in the second game as they once again battered one of their favorite punching bags, David Price. The Red Sox left-hander allowed six runs and three home runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Third Baseman Miguel Andújar drove a pitch into the right field seats in the bottom of the second for an early 1-0 lead. Two innings later with New York leading 3-0, first baseman Luke Voit also took Price deep to open up a 4-0 lead. In the sixth, Voit would hit his second home run of the night, a two-run shot that knocked Price out of the game. On the other side, Luis Severino was brilliant, pitching seven strong innings only allowing one run and collecting six strikeouts. In the ninth, the Yankees top prospect Justus Sheffield made his major league debut pitching a scoreless inning to finish off the 10-1 win.
Having already won the series, the Yankees looked to finish the sweep in the third game behind Masahiro Tanaka. The Red Sox, wanting to clinch the division on their hated rivals’ home field, called on left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez. Neither starter lasted more than four innings as they both allowed five earned runs. Boston took in early 3-0 lead on RBI singles by J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts. New York would answer back with a two-run home run by Voit in the second. In the fourth, with Boston in front 4-2, designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton stepped up to the plate facing reliever Heath Hembree. Stanton would hit a grand slam just over the wall in right field to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead.
But Boston would answer back in the seventh. With his team down 6-5, Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a game-tying solo home run off of Chad Green.
The Red Sox rallied for the lead later in the inning when Xander Bogaerts lifted a sacrifice fly off Dellin Betances. The sacrifice fly and a subsequent throwing error by center fielder Aaron Hicks gave Boston an 8-6 lead.
The Red Sox blew the game open in the eighth when Betts crushed a three-run home run off of Aroldis Chapman to open up an 11-6 lead. Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel would allow a hit, but nothing more, as he sealed up the division title for Boston.