A handful of Yankees along with their manager tried to explain what happened Sunday night at Fenway Park, and it was DJ LeMahieu who probably came closest to sailing the essence of yet another bizarre victory over the Red Sox, this time with the score 6 – 3.
“The story of our season is being slapped in the face and coming back,” he said, “so we are used to it at this point.”
Surfing through adversity has not always been as exciting — or rewarding — as this weekend’s sweep with three games at Fenway Park, the Yankees in early September since 2001 and one that allowed them to leap the Red Sox into the top wild-card slot.
The fact that they could easily (should?) Have lost Sunday’s finale makes them appreciate what supernatural forces chose to line up with them this particular night, and exceedingly happy that a superhero named Giancarlo Stanton is in their dugout.
Lucky? Sure if you want to focus on the eighth inning at-bat by Aaron Judge who came to the plate with an out, two on and the Yankees trailing 3-2. Against former Yankee Adam Ottavino, the judge was almost retired once – when first baseman Bobby Dalbec dropped a foul pop near the photographers’ well – then he was definitely out a second time when he tipped a third strike in catcher Christian Vazquez’s glove.
The ball was cleared off the boot of the defender, Vazquez. And when referee Joe West finally noticed the ball in the dirt, he threw up his arms and signaled what he thought was a subdued catch. Because the piece could not be reviewed, there could be no challenge.
“I felt like a cat,” the judge said. “Felt like I had nine lives up there.”
It turns out that the judge only needed three. He smoked the very first pitch, the eighth of at-bat, for a two-run double that brought the Yankees ahead to stay.
Dalbec budding alligator arms. The gift from Cowboy Joe. All lucky, no doubt, even though the referee removed his left pinkie, which slipped into second base (he said he was ok).
But dismissing the injury the Yankees inflicted on the Red Sox as a couple of lucky breaks would be a big mistake. Not when they literally gave Boston its only lead on a few lost pop-ups. At the same time. Five seats apart.
To put this in context, it is extremely rare to see a wrong pop-up in any major league match. Thaw? It is Sasquatch observation frequency.
But with two outs in the seventh inning, DJ LeMahieu and Joey Gallo – two Gold Glovers – had harmless, routine pops that knocked their gloves off.
LeMahieus in the ugly area kept Kyle Schwarber alive long enough to hit a float into the low left center, where a running Gallo somehow simply let it kick his ribbon off so Alex Verdugo could score from second base.
“A little amazing, right?” Said Aaron Boone. “I mean, you can not figure it out. But that’s one of my messages to the guys all year: Mistakes are going to happen, and you can not stop it. You have to move on. It’s not something you’re going to see very often — two pop-ups fell like that, especially of two really good defenders — but it’s part of the ride right now. ”
The Yankees are also lucky to have Stanton riding with shotguns to them in September, a month that he absolutely destroys with nine homers and 22 RBIs in 22 games. Maybe Judge got a few extra outs to help run in those races, but Stanton is simply an irresistible force at the plate. He homered in all three fights – put two of them on Lansdowne Street, behind the Monster, a total of 900 feet – and ran in 10 races.
“I’m just ready to go,” Stanton said. “There’s a lot at stake this season. It’s big time right now, so I just have to make sure I’m the most prepared I can be.”
Stanton is the first Yankee to have 10 RBIs in a three-game series at Fenway Park; Joe DiMaggio and Hideki Matsui each had nine. He also became only the fourth Yankee to have three homers and 10 RBIs in a three-game span against the Red Sox, joining Mickey Mantle (1954), Lou Gehrig (1931) and Babe Ruth (1927).
These are weird times around the Yankees. One minute several players can not catch a baseball. The next one leaves those tire tracks on the confused Red Sox, who now have to freak out beyond potentially playing the Yankees in a wild-card playoff game, no matter where it takes place.
“We’re not afraid to make it interesting, that’s for sure,” Stanton said.
With a week left, you need to tighten up.
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