NEW YORK -- When the Red Sox rocketed to the best start in franchise history, holding a 7 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East as recently as April 20, the Yanks' response could effectively have been summed up with a series of shrugs and yawns. There
NEW YORK -- When the Red Sox rocketed to the best start in franchise history, holding a 7 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East as recently as April 20, the Yanks' response could effectively have been summed up with a series of shrugs and yawns. There was no breaking news there: They knew Boston had a good team, and they expected to be one as well.
Two-and-a-half weeks later, that deficit has been completely erased and the historic rivals have arrived where they belong -- tied for the best record in the Majors, eyeing a summer with the potential of an epic back-and-forth divisional race. Aaron Judge's tie-breaking single lifted New York to its 16th win in 17 games on Tuesday evening, a 3-2 victory over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
"We've still got all the way to October to play. There's no panic," Judge said. "You never want to lose that many games early and get down like that, but we just trusted our team. Guys started getting comfortable and it started to click. It's still early; it's still May. We've just got to keep our head to the dirt and keep working."
Fittingly, Judge's go-ahead knock came off of Joe Kelly, who had been at the center of the benches-clearing fireworks when the clubs last met in Boston. Neil Walker delivered a pinch-hit double and Richard Hembree issued walks to Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner around a critical balk before Kelly was summoned to handle the bases-loaded, one-out jam, prompting vociferous boos from the crowd of 45,773.
"You don't forget, but you've got to move on," Judge said. "You can't live in the past. There's nothing you can do about it. It happened, it got resolved and now it's time to play baseball."
Judge got good wood on a 1-1 slider, pounding the ball into left field. Walker scored the go-ahead run easily and third-base coach Phil Nevin aggressively waved home Torres, who was thrown out at home plate by left fielder Andrew Benintendi.
Chad Green and Albertin Chapman recorded the final six outs to secure the Yankees' seventh consecutive victory. The Bombers are enjoying a 16-1 run that marks their best 17-game stretch since June 3-18, 1953, which was part of a larger 21-1 stretch. They have outscored opponents 101-39 over the span.
"It's blinders on," manager Aaron Boone said. "We're playing good baseball, doing it a lot of different ways. Tonight was tough. Boston is really good. They battle, battle, battle; kind of hung around. It's just nice that we're racking up some wins here. Good to get this series off on a good note, and hopefully we can get one tomorrow."
Giancarlo Stanton accounted for the Yanks' offense against starter Thomas Pomeranz, enjoying his third multihomer game of the season by belting solo drives in the second and fourth innings. Stanton's eighth and ninth homers were hit to left and right field, respectively, landing in the seats hours after Boone declared that the slugger's breakout was "imminent."
"As long as it's helping us win the game, it doesn't matter the opponent," Stanton said. "It's always a little sweeter with the rivalry."
Despite dealing with a left index finger issue that required a lengthy mound visit in the second inning, Pomeranz had better luck with the rest of the Yankees' order, limiting New York to four hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out six.
Luis Severino struck out 11 without a walk over six-plus strong innings, but he settled for a no-decision. Both of the Red Sox's runs off Severino came as a result of defensive lapses. In the fifth inning, catcher Gary Sanchez could not corral a slider that bounced for a wild pitch, allowing Eduardo Nunez to reach base on a strikeout. Severino struck out the next two hitters before Mookie Betts and Benintendi singled, producing Boston's first run.
"I definitely had a chance. I just couldn't block it, stop it, right there," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "And that contributed for Sevy to throw more pitches in that inning. I wanted to stop it and keep it there. Unfortunately, I couldn't do it."
In the seventh, Nunez reached again after a 10-pitch at-bat, credited with an infield hit after first baseman Christopher Austin could not scoop a throw from shortstop Didi Gregorius. Nunez could have been erased on a caught stealing, had Torres been able to hold a throw from Sanchez at second base. Instead, Nunez raced home as Betts tripled past a sliding Gardner in left field, tying the game and saddling Severino with a no-decision.
"They're good hitters," Severino said. "They were fighting off a lot of pitches. They have a great team. I was trying my best, but I was battling."
The Yanks have won 10 consecutive home games, which establishes a new record for the current Yankee Stadium. It is their longest home winning streak since winning 10 straight from July 5-23, 2008, in the final year of the original Yankee Stadium. They have outscored opponents 69-27 during the current streak.
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Judge made a strong, one-hop throw from the right-field corner in the third inning, cutting down Christian Vazquez at second base stretching a single. Judge's throw arrived in the perfect spot; Gregorius didn't even have to move his glove.
"I put a little something on that," Judge said. "It was just a ball down the line. Vazquez is aggressive. I was able to get a good throw on it and Didi put a good tag on him."
HE SAID IT
"A couple of times, I said to guys on the bench, 'I forgot how fun these were.'" - Boone
Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.39 ERA) will draw the start on Wednesday as the Yankees and Red Sox continue their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. ET. Tanaka is undefeated in his past three starts, going 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA and 19 strikeouts against the Blue Jays, Angels and Astros. Boston is starting Rick Porcello (5-0, 2.14 ERA) in place of David Price, who was scratched due to left hand numbness.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.