NEW YORK — The start of Saturday night’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees was delayed for 50 minutes, during which not a drop of rain fell. But a storm was coming, in what seemed like every way possible.
The Yankees beat the Sox, 3-1, in a six-inning game that was wild even by the lofty standards of baseball’s greatest rivalry.
The Yankees scored two runs during the 34 minutes it took to play the bottom of the sixth inning. The game was then delayed for another 52 minutes before it was finally called. That gave the beleaguered Yankees their first victory in eight games against the Red Sox this season.
“Today was one of those days,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
It sure was.
The ruckus started when Christian Vázquez struck out with the bases loaded on a check swing speciously called a strike by first base umpire Manny Gonzalez to end the top of the sixth with the score 1-1.
Red Sox bench coach Will Venable and backup catcher Kevin Plawecki were ejected for arguing the call.
When the Sox took the field, a fan in the left field stands threw a baseball that struck Alex Verdugo in the back.
“It’s a game. This is not like life and death. It’s not this drama,” Cora said. “The fact that people come to the ballpark, and they decided to throw a baseball [at] one of the players, I was in shock that happened.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone called Cora to apologize and told reporters he hoped the person was arrested.
Cora briefly pulled the Sox off the field as Verdugo was pointing out the person who threw the ball to Yankee Stadium security.
“I know my left fielder. I know Alex … You never know. What if he jumps the fence? What if he goes up there and attacks somebody?” Cora said. “That’s what I was telling [the umpires], just give us a chance to collect our thoughts.”
Umpire crew chief Jeff Nelson said his chief concern was Verdugo’s safety and getting the game started back up.
“We were concerned with dealing with the issue of the moment, which was making sure that the player was going to be safe and players were going to continue to be safe going forward in the game,” he said.
Prior to the game, Verdugo said he had enjoyed interacting with Yankees fans during the series in the Bronx back in June.
“I love it. I think it’s hilarious,” he said. “The Yankees fans let you have it. For me, it’s just funny.”
This time, Verdugo had to be pulled away by teammates as fans chanted obscenities at him.
Verdugo said he tried to throw the ball he used to warm up to a young Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan caught it.
“I was going back to try to get ready for the pitch to be delivered and I hear, ‘Throw it back,’” Verdugo said. “I’m in my stance getting ready and I take a peek, and as I look back, I see the ball heading down and then it hits me in my back.”
Verdugo turned and gestured as teammates and two umpires came running.
“There’s no reason to be throwing stuff back onto the field ever. There really isn’t,” Verdugo said. “Yeah, I lost my cool there for a second. I was pretty [angry]. But having some time to think about it now, to calm down and relax, it is what it is. I’m just happy that nothing came from it, nobody got hurt, I didn’t get hit in the face or anything like that, or the back of the head.”
As rain poured down, the Sox returned to the field. The Yankees quickly grabbed the lead on back-to-back home runs by Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres off Hirokazu Sawamura. There were several delays while the grounds crew dumped drying agent on the field as the Sox pitchers struggled to grip the ball.
There also was a replay reversal, the second of the game, when Mike Estabrook missed a call at second base. Josh Taylor got the third out and the umpires called for a delay.
It proved to be a memorable major league debut for 24-year-old Jarren Duran, who was 1 for 2 with a walk and scored the only run for the Sox with his parents in the stands.
“I’ve always heard the rivalry is crazy. But I feel like today was more Red Sox vs. the fans than anything,” Duran said.
The starting pitchers, Nate Eovaldi and Gerrit Cole, lived up to their All-Star status. Each allowed one run, but both teams missed a chance to score in the first inning.
Kiké Hernández ripped Cole’s first pitch down the line in left for a double and moved up when Alex Verdugo fouled out to left field.
Tim Locastro made a terrific catch up against the wall, but came out the game an inning later with a sore right knee that proved to be a torn ACL that will end his season.
With a runner on third and one out, Cole struck out J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers swinging.
Eovaldi got two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, then hit Rougned Odor and Sanchez with pitches. But Torres was retired on a fly ball to right field.
Duran swung at the first pitch he saw from Cole, a 95-mph fastball, and singled into center field. He moved up on a groundout and scored on Christian Arroyo’s two-out single to left field.
“I was hoping he’d throw me a fastball,” Duran said. “He’s a really good pitcher, so I wanted to make sure that I got my pitch before he started to dice me up. I guess that worked in my favor.”
Eovaldi didn’t allow a hit until Greg Allen doubled with two outs in the fifth inning. DJ LeMahieu worked the count full and drove a single to left field to tie it.
Cole (10-4) allowed just the one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out 11.
Eovaldi allowed one run on two hits over five innings and 94 pitches. He walked one and struck out seven. He has given up three earned runs over 18⅔ innings in three starts against the Yankees this season.