NEW YORK — At each twist and turn, Justin Turner found a way to straighten the path for the Red Sox Sunday afternoon. After every push the Yankees made, with 43,946 fans willing their team to salvage a game in this three-game set, it was Turner who served as the silencer in a wild 6-5 victory that gave the visitors a series sweep.
With the game tied, 2-2, in the seventh and the hot-hitting Rafael Devers at the plate, Yankees manager Aaron Boone elected to walk the Sox third baseman. The next batter was Turner, who pulled a first-pitch hanging sweeper from reliever Michael King into the left-field seats for a three-run homer to put his club back out in front.
“I was joking around, saying, ‘I would have walked him too,’ ” said Turner. “But any time someone gets intentionally walked in front of you, obviously it feels a little bit better when you make a big swing right after that.”
The Yanks responded in the bottom half of the frame, as Sox reliever John Schreiber gave up a single to Harrison Bader, walked Billy McKinney, and then saw Anthony Volpe lace a game-tying three-run homer to right-center.
But Turner, playing first for a second day in a row on a bad heel, responded again in the ninth. Pablo Reyes led off with a single and stole second, and Alex Verdugo walked. Devers grounded into a fielder’s choice, putting runners on the corners with one out. Turner then stepped up and drilled an opposite field RBI double to hand the Sox the lead once again.
Manager Alex Cora, who was ejected in the middle of the sixth after arguing balls and strikes, watched Turner’s performance in awe from the cafeteria inside the visitors clubhouse.
“It was amazing,” Cora said. “He’s grinding right now. I texted him this morning, and he was like, ‘I’m good, bro. I can play.’ For him to play for us, it means a lot. He put together good at-bats early on. He’s a good hitter and a great leader. I’m glad he’s playing for us.”
The Yankees put up a fight in the bottom of the ninth against Sox closer Kenley Jansen. Outfielder Greg Allen just missed a game-tying leadoff homer to right field, instead it was ruled a double after review. Jansen then plunked DJ LeMahieu, putting runners at first and second with no outs.
But those runners were left stranded. Jansen registered back-to-back strikeouts against the meat of the order in Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, then induced a Ben Rortvedt flyout to center to cement the sweep.
“I mean the situation was already messed up,” said Jansen on how he wiggled out of trouble. “You just have to have a messed-up mentality. What’s the worst that can happen? You’re already one foot [closer] to losing the game there. So you just take it one pitch at a time.”
The Red Sox have swept the Yankees in two straight series, winning their last seven games against them in posting an 8-1 record against New York, prompting a frustrated Boone to say that, “They’ve kicked our (butts).”
The Red Sox registered their first series sweep against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in more than two years. Do these dominant wins mean anything to the Sox?
“Not really,” Cora said. “We respect them. They’re a good team and they put it to us last year.”
Moreover, though, the Red Sox are still in the hunt for October — but unfortunately didn’t gain much ground. They are still three games behind the Mariners for the third wild-card spot, as Seattle pushed its win streak to six by completing a sweep of the Astros. The Red Sox are 2½ games behind Toronto, who also won Sunday.
Racking up wins is imperative for the club to stay above water. But with 38 games to play, some of their fate is out of their hands.
“We’ve been talking about it; we know where we’re at,” Cora said. “It should be fun, the next month and a half. We’re playing good baseball. We’re getting healthier, that’s the most important thing. Let’s see where it takes us.”
Devers finished 3 for 4 with a double and a homer, a solo shot off Yanks starter Clarke Schmidt in the first inning for his 29th of the season.
Bulk reliever Nick Pivetta turned in five innings, yielding just three hits — but two of them were solo homers, by Kyle Higashioka in the third and Torres in the sixth.
But Turner carried his club on a day in which the team needed not just a series win, but a sweep.
“I was in the bullpen and I said once they walked Devers [in the seventh], they should have walked Turner, too,” Jansen said.