NEW YORK — Take a deep breath and allow me to go Full Rochie on the Red Sox’ chances against the 62-28, first-place New York Yankees this year.
For some reason, the Sox are not afraid of the Yanks. Remember how they beat them in the one-game playoff last October? Remember how they beat them, three games to one in the 2018 ALDS, winning Game 3, 16-1?
Remember how they came from behind to beat the Yankees twice last weekend — winning the Fenway finale, 11-6?
They did it again Friday night at Yankee Stadium, beating the Yankees, 5-4, in 11 innings and scoring the winning run when team leader Xander Bogaerts (why not keep him, Chaim?) made a great read and scored from third on a wild pitch that bounced in front of Yankee catcher Jose Trevino.
The Sox also got home runs from Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez, and Bobby Dalbec.
Yes, Bobby Dalbec.
Boston hits well against the Yankees’ best pitchers, including Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, and erstwhile closer, Aroldis Chapman, who coughed up the bomb to Dalbec. The Sox even managed to get frustrated Yankee manager Aaron Boone ejected for the second time in two Boston-New York games. The Yanks have lost five of six.
All this is a positive way of looking at a Sox team that’s been dismal in July, and almost hopeless against American League East teams in 2022.
The Red Sox went into Friday night with a 5-12 record since June 27, and an 11-24 mark against the AL East. In 10 series against division opponents this year, the Sox are 0-9-1.
And yet . . . with Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, and Garrett Whitlock (six up, six down, three strikeouts Friday) back from the injured list, how would you feel about the Red Sox vs. the Yankees in a best-of-seven?
Asking for a friend.
The Sox jumped to a quick lead on Jordan Montgomery with four straight batters reaching base to start the game. Unfortunately, Boston failed to score after taking the two-run lead and having men on first and third with nobody out.
With diminished velocity, Eovaldi coughed up the lead in third, surrendering a three-run homer to Giancarlo Stanton. Big Nate had not pitched since June 8 because of back inflammation. Spending multiple weeks on the injured list is an unfortunate part of Eovaldi’s resume. Last year’s All-Star season marked the first time since 2015 that Eovaldi was not on the injured list.
Eovaldi’s injury history and his contract make it likely that he will not be a Red Sox in 2023. Along with Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Vazquez, Kike Hernandez, and Jackie Bradley Jr., Eovaldi can leave the Sox for a bigger contract after this season. You can expect most of them to be gone next year. It’s the Tampa Bay Way.
Count this observer as one discouraged by a lack of New England media presence in the Yankee Stadium press box Friday. Only the Globe (three reporters) and MassLive bothered to cover the Sox in this “big” series before the All-Star break. It made me wonder when was the last time only one Boston newspaper covered the Red Sox in New York. Probably never.
Sox-Yankees games were certainly entertaining when they jousted at Fenway last weekend. Boston’s comeback wins in third final two games of that series might have been the highlights of this strange Sox season.
The Cora-men flushed away the feel-good moment by going to the Trop Dome and losing four straight to their Tampa cousins. Boston played some stupendously sloppy baseball in the Citrus Circus Tent, although Cora said Thursday’s 5-4 loss was better than the clown shows we watched Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Bloom-strapped manager went to war with his usual salami-bats at the bottom of his order Friday. Poor Dalbec (.204), JBJ (.206), and Jeter Downs (.200) batted seventh, eighth, and ninth for Boston. The trio went into the game batting .071 (3 for 42) on the road trip. Any of you remember Butch Hobson hitting 30 homers and knocking in 112 runs while spending 142 of his games batting in the bottom three spots in the order?
Dalbec had a good at-bat to end the first, fouling off multiple two-strike pitches before fanning to stand two runners. In the bottom of the second, he watched Matt Carpenter’s one-hop rocket pass between his legs. Incredibly, the ball was scored a base hit. These eyes have never seen a major league “base hit” that skipped between the first baseman’s wickets. Such is the state of modern official scoring. It’s always easier to make two guys (fielder, hitter) happy.
Then came the seventh when Bobby D stepped in against 100-mile-per-hour Chapman and launched a homer to left.
Bogaerts was the hero in the 11th, making a daring dash home on a ball that was boxed around by Trevino. Ryan Brasier clinched it with a 1-2-3 11th.
There is hope for these trick-or-treat Red Sox. They just need to stay in the wild-card group, then take their chances in October against the division-winning, 100-plus win Yankees. In the immortal words of Kevin Garnett, “anything’s possible!’’