The Yankees were in the driver’s seat last night, with Masahiro Tanaka allowing one run on four hits over seven innings and Yankees hitters knocking Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez out of the box before two innings could be completed. Yep, that was exactly what New York needed as it begins an 11-game road trip during which its Wild Card dreams will be realized or shattered.
David Ortiz hit a homer in the eighth to make things closer, but it was still only 5-2 and if you give Dellin Betances a three-run lead in the ninth you’re usually gonna do OK. He hasn’t been charged with four runs or more since June of last year. He had only done it one other time before that, way back in 2013. He’s a different pitcher now. One who is normally a lock in such situations.
But not last night. Maybe because he’s been worked hard lately, having pitched for three straight days. Indeed, that’s why Joe Girardi didn’t start the ninth with him, likely trying to give him a break in what should’ve been an easy save for Tommy Layne or Blake Parker. That didn’t happen, though. Girardi only let Layne face one batter, bringing in Parker, who hit the only batter he faced. With one on and one out, it was Betances’ game to save.
Betances walked Dustin Pedroia. Then he and the guy Parker plunked, Chris Young, advanced to second and third, respectively, on a pitcher’s indifference. Young was thrown out at home for out number two, but then Betances gave up two RBI singles to cut the lead to 5-4 with two men on. Then Hanley happened:
I’ve seen a lot of Yankees fans angry at Girardi over all of this. But Betances is normally reliable and, at some point every year, your closer is gonna pitch a few games in a row and be asked to get you out of a jam despite not having his best stuff. It often works. Last night it didn’t. The Red Sox have a lot of good hitters, you see.