Hanley Ramirez’s walkoff blast stuns the Yankees

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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:

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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.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).