Yankees pounce on Sox in theatrical win

July 25th, 2021

BOSTON -- The Yankees trailed after Jameson Taillon’s third pitch of the afternoon and their at-bats exhibited little urgency to catch up, seemingly sleepwalking through the first seven innings. Maybe they were just waiting for a perfect opportunity to strike.

Rougned Odor kissed Fenway Park’s Green Monster with a game-tying, two-run double and Gleyber Torres’ soft flare found turf in right field to create the Yankees’ first lead of the afternoon, part of an unlikely rally that fueled a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday.

“It’s a really good win on a day when we were lackluster for the first seven innings or so,” said outfielder Brett Gardner, who helped spark the comeback with an RBI single. “Things weren’t looking good, so it’s definitely nice to be able to come out of here with the win. It’s a crazy game we play.”

Gardner squared a curveball for a two-out, two-strike hit that chased home Estevan Florial with the Yankees’ first run, helping New York swipe a victory from Boston -- their third win in 12 tries this season.

That knocked out right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who had been excellent through seven innings, handcuffing his former club by striking out eight without a walk. Giancarlo Stanton greeted right-hander Adam Ottavino with a ground-rule double that bounced into the seats along the right-field line.

After a heartbreaking loss in Thursday’s series opener in which Chad Green coughed up a ninth-inning lead, the Yankees were due for a change in fortune. None of the hits by Stanton, Odor and Torres were particularly well-struck, carrying expected batting averages (xBA) of .330, .220 and .220, respectively.

“A couple of days ago, we felt good about our game and ended up losing,” Gardner said. “Today we weren’t feeling good about it and ended up winning. It’s nice to end up on the good side of things. Hopefully it’ll give us a little momentum.”

It was the Yankees’ 25th come-from-behind win of the season. New York has won five of its last seven games, sitting eight games behind the division-leading Red Sox and four games out of an American League Wild Card spot.

“It’s probably a good idea at some point to start being aware of the standings, but right now we just need to win games,” said Taillon, who picked up the victory with seven innings of three-run ball. “If we don’t play our best baseball, it doesn’t matter who’s ahead of us.”

Opening act
The afternoon opened inauspiciously for Taillon. Kiké Hernández smoked the righty’s third pitch to left-center field for a triple, then was waved home on a throwing error -- a Little League homer that placed Boston into the driver’s seat almost immediately.

Kevin Plawecki cracked a run-scoring double in the second inning and Rafael Devers lifted a sacrifice fly in the third off Taillon, who limited loud contact from there and improved to 5-0 with a 2.59 ERA in his last seven starts.

“It’s a really good lineup and the game potentially could have gotten away in the middle innings,” said manager Aaron Boone. “He just kept making pitches. He was so efficient, he was able to cruise through seven innings. I felt he got better as the game went along.”

Only one of the runs charged to Taillon was earned; he scattered four hits, walking three and striking out four while tying his season high in innings pitched.

“Today is probably the best I’ve felt physically all year,” Taillon said. “Walking off the field to the clubhouse, I was kind of taking my temperature on how everything felt. I was coming away kind of shocked at how good my body feels and how strong I feel.”

Dramatic conclusion
Jonathan Loaisiga pitched a scoreless eighth, so there was still the matter of closing out the ninth; no given considering Aroldis Chapman’s recent shakiness, including an outing earlier this week when his control was affected by a fingernail issue.

Hearing boos after buzzing Alex Verdugo high and tight with his first pitch, a 94.8 mph fastball, Chapman induced a groundout and then struck out Plawecki before issuing a walk to pinch-hitter Hunter Renfroe.

Christian Vázquez shot a ground-rule double into the right field seats, mimicking Stanton’s eighth-inning hit and bringing Hernández to the plate. With the crowd of 35,136 standing, Chapman prevailed in a five-pitch battle, getting the infielder to strike out swinging on a 99.5 mph heater.

“I thought it was a good inning,” Chapman said through an interpreter. “A couple of the hitters had a really good at-bats, Renfroe and Vázquez. I felt really good and that's the most important thing. You need to feel good out there and do your job.”