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Yankees top Red Sox 4-1 in 16th; Boston plays under protest

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BOSTON — Didi Gregorius lined a go-ahead single in the 16th inning and the New York Yankees outlasted the Boston Red Sox 4-1 Saturday in the longest game between the bitter rivals at Fenway Park since 1966.

Matt Holliday hit a tying home run off Boston closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth that cleared the Green Monster, and it took 5 hours, 50 minutes and 512 pitches to finish. That is, if it’s really over – the Red Sox put the game under protest after a bizarre play on the bases involving Holliday in the 11th.

Both teams burned through their bullpens, and the relievers won’t get much rest. The Yankees and the AL East-leading Red Sox are set for a day-night doubleheader Sunday.

Boston starter Chris Sale struck out 13 in 7 2/3 scoreless innings of three-hit ball. He leads the majors with 191 strikeouts.

Yankees starter Luis Severino allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. He gave up Mitch Moreland‘s sacrifice fly in the third.

Ben Heller (1-0) went two innings. Seven Yankees relievers combined to blank Boston on four hits for nine innings.

Doug Fister (0-3) gave up three runs in the 16th. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double, Gregorius and Austin Romine hit RBI singles and Gary Sanchez added a sacrifice fly.

A day after Yankees blew a ninth-inning lead and lost, they rallied to win for just the eighth time in 28 games. New York closed within 3 1/2 games of Boston.

The Red Sox had been 43-0 when leading after eight. Kimbrel, the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, had his first career blown save at Fenway following 30 successful ones.

Red Sox manager John Farrell put the game under protest after an odd sequence in the 11th.

Holliday led off with a walk and Ellsbury followed with a grounder to Moreland at first base. Moreland threw to second for a forceout but Holliday retreated toward first and slid into the bag as shortstop Xander Bogaerts‘ throw arrived.

Moreland wasn’t able to reach the ball, which hit Ellsbury and bounced into foul territory. Farrell argued in favor of an interference call and after a lengthy review, the umpires allowed Ellsbury to stay on first.

The clubs last played 16 at Fenway on June 4, 1966, when Jim Gosger’s three-run homer gave Boston a 6-3 victory.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: Manager Joe Girardi said the club was “hopeful” that OF Aaron Hicks, on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right oblique, would “start doing some light baseball activity” when the club returns from its season-long, 11-game trip.

Red Sox: Placed RHP Joe Kelly on the 10-day DL before the game with a strained left hamstring and recalled RHP Brandon Workman from Triple-A. . RHP Blaine Boyer left with right elbow tightness. . Bogaerts put on a soft brace to support his left ring and pinkie finger under his batting glove halfway through batting practice.

HONORED

The Red Sox welcomed about 1,300 Vietnam veterans and their families onto the field during a pregame ceremony.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 5.06 ERA) is set for the opener and RHP Masahiro Tanaka (7-8, 5.47) in the nightcap Sunday.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-11, 4.75) and LHP David Price (4-2, 3.91) are slated to start.

Report: Gerrit Cole has seven-year, $245 million offer from Yankees

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Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.

While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.

Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.

Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.

For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.