NEW YORK — The Red Sox were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on Monday night, something that barely registered with a team that has become increasingly reliant on young players in recent weeks.
There was certainly no lack of energy on Tuesday night. The Sox scored six runs in the first inning and went on to beat the Yankees, 10-4.
Rookie catcher Blake Swihart drove in a career-best five runs with two home runs. Mookie Betts also homered and Rick Porcello went eight strong innings, overcoming a rocky first six batters.
The Red Sox have won five straight for the first time this season and eight of 11.
“It’s something we’re very proud of. We’re not shutting down,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’re playing the way the Boston Red Sox are supposed to play baseball. I think we answered the question if we were going to be ready for the remainder of the season.”
At 77-80, the Sox have a chance to finish .500. For a team that was 52-66 on Aug. 17, that would be quite an accomplishment.
“I’d love that,” Swihart said. “The last couple of weeks, that’s something that we’ve been talking about. We want to get there. That’s like our little goal.”
The first inning took 37 minutes. The teams scored 10 runs on nine hits, seven of them for extra bases. The Red Sox emerged with a 6-4 lead.
Michael Pineda faced nine batters and threw 32 pitches. The Yankees had their bullpen up as the inning came to an end.
The six runs were the most the Sox scored against the Yankees in the first inning since Sept. 26, 1989, when they scored eight runs off Andy Hawkins en route to a 9-5 victory.
Betts led off the inning with a double to left field. Dustin Pedroia followed with a single and Betts scored when Xander Bogaerts grounded into a force at second base.
David Ortiz was next and he lined a slider off the wall in right field, just missing a home run. Bogaerts stopped at third base.
Ortiz has 474 doubles with the Red Sox, tied with Dwight Evans for third in team history. Only Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski (646) and Ted Williams (525) have more.
Travis Shaw tapped the ball to the right side of the mound and Bogaerts beat the throw to the plate by Pineda. The Yankees challenged the call, but it was upheld on review.
Brock Holt lined a slider into center field, scoring Ortiz. Holt challenged the weak arm of Jacoby Ellsbury and hustled in for a double.
Swihart then homered to right field, taking advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium.
Pineda allowed seven runs on seven hits in six innings. He had faced the Red Sox twice earlier this season and allowed two earned runs over 12⅔ innings.
Porcello didn’t handle all the run support very well.
Ellsbury led off the bottom of the first with a double to left field. Brett Gardner singled and Brian McCann drove in Ellsbury with a groundout.
Carlos Beltran doubled with two outs before Dustin Ackley homered to right field, belting a high fastball.
Pitching coach Carl Willis came to the mound at that point and was direct with Porcello.
“He woke me up a little bit. Told me to make some adjustments, get the ball down and stop making mistakes,” Porcello said. “We were fine after that. Sometimes you need a kick in the butt.”
From the second inning on, Porcello (9-14) allowed only two hits and the Yankees advanced one runner beyond first base. He walked one and struck out eight.
Porcello was proud of how well he recovered.
“To me that was my best start all year,” he said.
In seven starts since coming off the disabled list, Porcello is 4-3 with a 3.22 earned run average. He has struck out 50 over 50⅓ innings.
The Red Sox added to their lead in the fifth inning when Betts homered to left field.
Betts’s 42 doubles lead the Sox. His 16 homers are third on the team.
Facing Bryan Mitchell in the eighth inning, Holt drew a walk with two outs and Swihart homered again, a blast to right-center. He has five homers on the season, three in the last three games.
“I don’t know if those balls are home run anywhere else but here,” said Swihart said, who is hitting .272 in his rookie season with a .713 OPS.
“I’m not trying to hit home runs. I’m just trying to put good swings on balls.”
The Yankees lead the American League wild-card race, but have yet to clinch.
Still, only a sparse crowd attended. It was announced as 38,512 based on tickets sold, but many seats were empty.