NEW YORK -- It was a series that opened with the uncertainty of a postponement, six assignments to the COVID-19 injured list prompting an odd scene of unfamiliar teammates exchanging scouting reports. With the division-leading Red Sox in town, the Yankees could have easily buckled or folded. They did not.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good at the plate, just trying to help my team when they give me the opportunity to play the game,” Odor said. “Our team is feeling really good, too.”
Opening a two-week stretch that could define their season, the Bombers bounced back from being blanked in the series opener on Friday to outlast Boston in an eventful rain-shortened contest on Saturday. They seemed to be in control all night on Sunday, improving to 7-3 in their last 10 games.
“It’s been a hard week,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I’m just really pleased with the level of focus and energy that the guys have come in with, each and every day. It’s definitely a good win to get over a team that we’re chasing.”
Torres continued to show encouraging signs by homering for the second straight night, opening scoring against left-hander Martín Pérez by clearing the left-field fence with a second-inning drive – just Torres’ fifth homer of the season, two years removed from a campaign in which he paced the Bombers with 38 long balls.
Giancarlo Stanton added a run-scoring groundout in the third inning and Greg Allen continued an impressive start to his pinstriped career by lifting a fifth-inning sacrifice fly off Perez, cashing Odor -- who’d reached on a drag bunt and aggressively raced to third base on a single.
The production supported Taillon, who improved to 4-0 with a 2.86 ERA over his last six starts, allowing two earned runs or fewer in five of those starts.
“The last couple of starts, the offense has put up a ridiculous amount of runs for me,” said Taillon, who limited Boston to four hits over 5 1/3 innings in his 100th Major League start. “That has allowed me to feel really free out there, just compete and challenge guys. Tonight I didn’t have my best stuff by any means, but I was able to keep the team with the lead.”
With Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela and four others still on the COVID-19 injured list (plus Luke Voit on the 10-day injured list with a knee injury), there have been a steady stream of fresh faces filtering through the Yankees’ clubhouse doors this weekend.
“There’s no doubt that they’ve come in and brought energy and excitement,” Boone said. “There’s enthusiasm for a handful of them, [their] first time being in the big leagues or getting back to the big leagues. More importantly, they’ve gone out and played well.”
The latest was outfielder Ryan LaMarre, who found himself patrolling right field some 24 hours after being summoned from Worcester, Mass., where he was playing with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. LaMarre took a roster spot vacated by outfielder Tim Locastro, who sustained a right knee injury in the first inning on Saturday.
LaMarre’s stay appeared as though it might be also brief when he hit the right-field wall hard in the fifth inning, pursuing a Christian Vazquez double. LaMarre said that he told Boone: “I’m not coming out. You don’t get too many chances to wear pinstripes.”
He picked up his first Yankees hit in the fifth inning, then worked a walk, stole a base and scored a run in the seventh. Part of an all-RailRiders starting outfield that also featured Allen and Trey Amburgey, who departed early with a right hamstring cramp, LaMarre capped his night with a two-run homer in the eighth.
“It felt great,” LaMarre said. “We know this is a big stretch of games. We've all been playing together in Scranton for two, three months now. We’re pulling for each other. We're just trying to contribute any way we can.”
Pouring it on
The Bombers batted around for four runs in the seventh, aided by five walks. That provided a cushion to get Zack Britton his first appearance since June 25 at Fenway Park, as well as a low-leverage opportunity for struggling closer Aroldis Chapman, who hurled a perfect ninth around a loud flyout.
New York has won two of three games in successive series against the Mariners, Astros and Red Sox as they lobby to solidify general manager Brian Cashman’s stance that -- despite an underwhelming first half -- the team should be buyers in advance of the July 30 Trade Deadline.
“It would have been easy for us to roll over after everything that has gone on the past few days with who we’ve lost,” Taillon said. “To come back and win two games and get contributions from everyone up and down the lineup, it’s been fun to watch. It’s been fun to be a part of.”