Maybe there weren’t superpowers in those Swedish/UCLA City Connect uniforms.
Maybe it was just the Orioles and Mets doing Oriole and Met things.
The Red Sox took a seven-game winning streak into their weekend joust with the Yankees on Friday, proudly wearing their yellow and powder blue jerseys. Never mess with a streak. It’s a baseball thing.
The streak is over. Maybe also the silly shirts. The Yankees pounded Nate Eovaldi early and often Friday, jumping to a 7-0 lead in the third and coasting to an 8-3 win, closing to within one game of the Red Sox in the AL wild-card standings. The Yankees pounded 15 hits and left nine runners on base. Sox center fielder Kiké Hernández probably lost five pounds running down balls to the warning track.
If the playoffs started today, it would be the Yankees at Fenway, Tuesday, Oct. 5. One game for the right to advance. Gerrit Cole would no doubt start for the Yankees, which could be problematic. Cole gave up a three-run homer to Rafael Devers in the sixth, but otherwise shut down the Sox in the first game of the showdown series.
The Sox are still in good shape as long as they don’t get swept. They have a three-game wild-card cushion with eight to play. After the Yankees leave town, Boston’s bashers finish the season with six games against the Orioles and Nationals. The Red Sox routinely crush the triple-A pitching those teams offer.
Friday’s series opener did not start well for the Local Nine. Eovaldi was routed for seven runs on seven hits and two walks in 2⅔ innings. After Eovaldi was lifted — trailing 6-0 with two runners aboard — first baseman Kyle Schwarber failed to glove a sky-high pop up, allowing a seventh Yankee to cross the plate. (Anybody can play first, right?) It was ugly.
“I’ve got to be able to set the tone and I didn’t do that tonight,’’ said Eovaldi. “It’s just frustrating.’’
New York’s $324 million ace fared better. A Cy Young candidate, Cole came into the night with a 15-8 record, 231 strikeouts, and a 3.03 ERA. However, he was 1-2 against the Sox with a 5.06 ERA and was coming off his worst start of the season (seven runs, 10 hits in 5⅔ innings) when he was booed off the mound in an 11-1 loss to the Indians. He reversed his fortunes in what was the biggest game of the year for the Bronx Bombers. He’d never won a game at Fenway.
Cole did not allow a hit in the first three innings and struck out three. He gave up his first hit in the fourth. He left after yielding the three-run bomb to Devers in the sixth. He’ll no doubt get the ball if the Yanks make it to the wild card game.
If form holds and the Sox play the Yankees Oct. 5, Alex Cora will have to decide whether to start Eovaldi or Chris Sale. Eovaldi has been a Yankee-killer throughout his career. In five 2021 starts against the Yankees (before Friday), he was 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA. Lifetime, he owned a 2.87 ERA against the Yankees — lowest among all active pitchers with at least ten starts against the Bombers.
He had nothing Friday. He didn’t strike out anyone for the first time since 2018. He surrendered four hits and three runs in the first. Giancarlo Stanton hit a three-run laser shot into the Sox bullpen in the third. Even the Yankee outs were rockets. Cora lifted Eovaldi after a two-out walk to Brett Gardner. Then Schwarber watched the popup drop as Joey Gallo crossed home plate. Clearly, the Sox cannot afford to put the Schwarb at first in a one-game playoff.
It’s been a Jekyll-and-Hyde season for the Yanks. They started 5-10, followed that with 23-9, then 5-13, then 43-20 (which included a 13-game win streak). They followed that with a 7-15 dip before sweeping the Rangers before heading to Boston. The Red Sox beat New York in their first seven meetings this year. The Yankees went a curious 11-8 against Baltimore. The Sox are 12-4 vs. the Zer-O’s.
Weather permitting, the Sox and Yankees play again at 4:10 p.m. Saturday with Nick Pivetta on the mound for Boston and Nestor Cortes Jr. pitching for New York. “Sunday Night Baseball” on ESPN features Eduardo Rodriguez and Jordan Montgomery.
The Sox should be OK if they don’t lose all three of these games. And now they are free to ditch the yellow shirts.