Rafael Devers hit the home run that won the game, a two-run shot to center field off Gerrit Cole that sent Fenway Park into a frenzy in the fifth inning on Friday night.
Jarren Duran helped light the fuse with a double to the triangle in center field that would have been an RBI triple had the ball not hopped into the stands.
Devers homered again in the seventh inning, this time a three-run shot that put away the Yankees.
Devers was an All-Star this season and Duran will be someday if what the mystics and statistics say is true.
But this 6-2 victory belonged to Phillips Valdez, who arrived at Fenway Park just before batting practice and pitched three scoreless innings, pulling the Sox off a cliff.
“He was amazing,” Alex Cora said.
Valdez is a 29-year-old righthanded reliever from the Dominican Republic who has spent parts of four seasons in Triple A with three organizations.
He was in Pennsylvania with Worcester on Thursday night when the Sox told him to fly to Boston. The Sox had run through five relievers on Thursday and weren’t sure if Hirokazu Sawamura would be available because of a sore triceps.
At 6:21 p.m., the Sox announced that Sawamura was on the injured list and Valdez had been called up.
An hour later, Eduardo Rodriguez left the game in the second inning with migraine symptoms. Valdez took the mound with runners on second and third, no outs and the Sox trailing their rivals, 1-0.
“You think the worst-case scenario,” Cora said.
Instead they got the best. Valdez wormed out of the jam without allowing another run. He threw 55 pitches and struck out seven of the 11 batters he faced. The three innings were his most this season.
Not since Rich Garcés on April 30, 1996 had a Red Sox reliever pitched three innings and struck out seven while putting three or fewer men on base.
El Guapo entered that game with the Sox leading, 12-4. Valdez came into a mess.
“I went out there tonight to just compete,” Valdez said via translator Bryan Loor-Almonte. “Going in there with no outs, I knew what I had to do.”
Valdez struck out Chris Gittens, hit Ryan LaMarre, and struck out Greg Allen. With the bases loaded, he struck out DJ LeMahieu on four pitches, all sinkers.
LeMahieu thought the last pitch was high, but Alan Porter called it a strike.
Valdez paved the road for what followed as the Sox scored three runs in the fifth and three more in the seventh to extend their win streak to four games.
Before Friday, Valdez had not pitched more than two innings in a game this season or thrown more than 41 pitches. He told Cora he would throw 200 pitches if that’s what he needed.
“Mentally I was ready to give whatever it is the team needed for us to get this win,” said Valdez, who was wearing a T-shirt that said “You Have To Believe” while he spoke to reporters. “I knew how important it was.”
All but three of Valdez’s pitches were sinkers and changeups. Cora thought that combination kept the Yankees off-balance.
“It seemed like it was hard for them to recognize pitches,” he said.
Valdez was claimed off waivers from Seattle during spring training last season and appeared in 24 games. The results have been mixed this year and he was in Worcester for the last six weeks.
Friday’s performance will surely get Valdez some more looks.
“That was good stuff. The velocity was up and the changeup was playing as always,” Cora said. “Some tough at-bats against some tough hitters … He showed up with a great attitude. I’m very happy for him, very proud of him.”
Another Triple A veteran, Yacksel Rios, pitched two scoreless innings following Valdez and picked up the win. In all, five relievers held the Yankees to one run on four hits over eight innings and struck out 11.
Over the course of a long season, some victories stick out. Beating a pitcher like Cole with what amounted to a bullpen game will be one of them.
“Tonight the story is about the bullpen starting with Phillips,” Cora said. “It was one of those great wins.”