'I took a chance': Xander darts home on wild pitch to beat Yanks

July 16th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Yankee Stadium had that playoff atmosphere Friday night for the opener of a three-game series between the rival Red Sox and Yankees. It was a sellout crowd of 47,573, but when it was over, Boston silenced the crowd as it edged New York, 5-4, in 11 innings.

With the victory, the Red Sox ended a four-game losing streak and are tied with the Blue Jays for the third Wild Card spot in the American League.

“It was a great battle -- a lot of good things,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.

The game was tied at 4 when the Red Sox took the lead in the top of the 11th inning off reliever Michael King. Automatic runner Xander Bogaerts was on third base with two outs when King threw a wild pitch -- a slider. The ball bounced away from Yankees catcher Jose Trevino, allowing Bogaerts to score the go-ahead run. It helped that Bogaerts had a good secondary lead and was aggressive.

“[King] is a tough pitcher. Everyone that comes out of the bullpen is pretty tough,” Bogaerts said. “The whole night, he didn’t bounce any breaking balls. He had it pretty much under control. I just had it in my head that I had to be ready in case he bounced one. … As soon as I saw it bounce, I took a chance and I went.”

Cora said Bogaerts has great baseball instincts, so he wasn’t surprised that Bogaerts scored the winning run.

“For him to take a chance there … he had to read the pitch. He was aggressive and he got the run,” Cora said. “We needed to score there. Let’s put it that way. [Bogaerts understood] who was on the mound, and the count.

“That’s why I bet he was more aggressive with his primary lead. He saw it right away. As soon as the ball bounced, he took off. You have to give him credit. Like I always say, he grinds, he plays every day. Sometimes it doesn’t look pretty -- running-wise and all that. But when he has to go, he goes.”

The Red Sox’s bullpen was outstanding all night, despite Tanner Houck blowing the save in the ninth inning. After Nathan Eovaldi left the game in the fifth with one out in his return from the injured list, the relievers -- John Schreiber, Garrett Whitlock, Houck and Ryan Brasier -- held New York to one run for the final 6 2/3 innings, striking out a combined six batters along the way.

“They are an incredible group of guys out there in the bullpen,” Houck said. “It’s a privilege to be a part of them. … I can really speak highly of them all day.”

Houck was the one who was pitching a tightrope in the ninth inning. With no outs and runners on first and second, Isiah Kiner-Falefa bunted the ball right back to Houck, who attempted to get the forceout at third base. But Houck threw the ball away, which allowed Gleyber Torres to tie the score at 4.

“We are human just like everybody else,” Houck said. “I realized it’s not over yet. We got to go out there and finish the inning. That’s what I really tried to do.”

Which he did -- miraculously. After an intentional walk, Houck went back to work with the bases loaded and nobody out. He induced Trevino to hit into a 5-2-3 double play, while DJ LeMahieu grounded out to end the threat.

“It worked out in the end,” Houck said. “I took a step back, took a deep breath and did what I had to do. “I’m thankful for the team to pick me up and back me up there.”

The Yankees, who have lost five out of their last six, had multiple chances to put the game away, but they couldn’t find the big hit.

"We should have won that game,” Yankees manager Aaron Bone said. “We had our chances, just couldn't break through, so it's frustrating. We've got to turn the page on this one, get after it tomorrow and try and close out this half the way we're capable of."