The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 13-8, in the rubber game of their series at Fenway Park. Their pitching was not effective after taking a 12-1 lead in the fifth inning, but their five homers led them to a much-needed series win over their rival, and to Joe Girardi’s 800th win as a manager.
David Ortiz hit a ground rule double to right to score Mookie Betts in the first inning, but the Yankees would go onto score 12 unanswered runs. Greg Bird and John Ryan Murphy hit back-to-back homers in the second inning. Bird’s homer was a two-run blast and he now has three homers and 12 RBIs in his 18 games played and Murphy’s homer was solo blast and his average is now .276, which is very good for a back-up catcher.
After the back-to-back homers, Chris Young singled to left to score Didi Gregorius and advance Stephen Drew to third, Alex Rodriguez singled to left to score Drew and Young and then Carlos Beltran hit a homer over the Green Monster to drive in Rodriguez to give the team their eighth run of the second inning.
In the third inning, Drew homered to right to score Bird and Gregorius to make the score 11-1, and then in the fifth inning, Gregorius hit a solo blast to right center to give the team their 12th run of the game. The Yankees would tack on an insurance run in the eighth inning after the Red Sox made a comeback as Jose Pirela hit an infield single to score Brett Gardner. The speedy Rico Noel was going to make his first major league at bat, since he was in the on-deck circle, but Joe Girardi sent Pirela in to hit at the last minute.
The six, seven, eight and nine hitters for the Yankees combined to go 8/17 (.470) with eight runs scored, seven RBIs and four homers. That is much better production than you will normally see from the bottom of the lineup.
“When you get guys down there producing the way they are, a lot of times you can put up big numbers,” Girardi said. “And we did.”
In his last seven games, Gregorius has 16 hits in 28 at-bats (.571) with eight runs scored, three homers and 12 RBIs. His average is now a season-high .272 and he has raised his average from .252 to .272 in his last 10 games. Drew, who had not finished a game with his average above .200 this season until it was .201 on August 30, has his average up to .211 since he has nine hits in his last 13 at-bats, to go along with six runs scored, two homers and nine RBIs.
“Didi’s swinging the bat well, obviously, and myself, so it was a good day overall for everybody,” Drew said after the game.
Masahiro Tanaka picked up his 11th win of the season, but he allowed three runs after the Yankees had their 12-1 lead. To make the score 12-4, Pablo Sandoval hit a sacrifice fly to score Blake Swihart. Andrew Bailey, who was making his first appearance since the middle of the 2013 season because of serious injuries, didn’t have his control as he allowed two walks, a hit and an earned run to make the score 12-5.
The Yankees unfortunately were forced to bring in Dellin Betances and Andrew MIller into a game that they were winning 12-1. Betances was able to record the final two outs of the eighth inning after Bryan Mitchell allowed two runs and then Andrew Miller recorded all three outs in the ninth inning for his eighth consecutive scoreless appearance.
The Yankees did what they had to do as they went 5-1 on their road trip to Atlanta and Boston. They are still 1.5 games behind the Blue Jays since Toronto has also won their last two games. The Blue Jays will have to cool down soon since they have gone 19-5 win their last 25 games.
The Yankees have the day off on Thursday before closing the season with 30 games in the next 31 days. They will start a 10-game homestand with a three-game set against the 66-67 Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Luis Severino, who has an outstanding 2.17 ERA in his five game this season and could be the team’s third best starter, will get the start for the Yankees.
Didi Gregorius (Mariekson Julius Gregorius), who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade on Dec. 5, 2014, recently did an interview with Jack Curry to discuss replacing Derek Jeter at shortstop and what his reaction was to being traded to the Yankees. He said that he is a player who is all about winning, wants to play hard and wants to get a ring. Gregorius (24), who is known for being elite defensively, actually hit his first major league home run at Yankee Stadium.
On Friday morning, the Yankees acquired Didi Gregorius, a 24-year-old shortstop from the Netherlands, in a three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks. The relief pitcher prospect Robbie Ray went from the Tigers to the Diamondbacks, and the Yankees sent starter Shane Greene to the Tigers.
The Yankees only had to give up Greene, who is already 26 and started 14 games last season only because the Yankees had many injuries in their rotation, to get their shortstop who will take over for Derek Jeter. The Yankees have depth in their rotation, which means that this is a deal that they had to make.
Gregorius is coming off of a season where played in 80 games with the Dbacks and hit only .226 with six homers and 27 RBIs. However, he played more games in 2013 (103) and his offensive production was better as he had 16 doubles versus nine in 2014, a .252 average, seven homers and 28 RBIs. He had a .310 average in 57 games in 2014 while playing for the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate in Reno, which proves that he has the ability to hit for a higher average.
(Stats in the Pacific Coast League are usually inflated based on the ballparks since it is known as a hitter friendly league, but it was only his average that was higher and not his power numbers.)
Gregorius, who is known for his defense, might not have the ability to hit 15 homers in a season like Derek Jeter did nine times in his career, but he is a plus defender with the ability to go to his left and right. Jeter wasn’t able to have much range during his last few seasons, which means Gregorius will be an upgrade in that regard. In 67 games at shortstop in 2014, Gregorius had five errors, had a .983 fielding percentage, turned 39 double plays and had 189 assists.
In the minors, he had six errors in 19 games during the 2014 season at shortstop. He is athletic and has shown promise while playing for Arizona, which means that he has the ability to improve. Gregorious came out of left field because the Yankees would usually have acquired a higher profiled shortstop, but since they only had to give up Greene to get this young shortstop with promise the deal makes sense.
Former Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers had very complementary words to say about Gregorius in 2012. “When I first saw him he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter,” Towers said. The test will come in April when he will have to show if he can handle the media scrutiny in New York City after previously playing in Cincinnati and Phoenix.
The Yankees offense needs a bounce back this season, but in order for it to do so Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira will have to perform better than they did las season. It will be a successful first season offensively if Gregorius can hit .255 with eight homers and about 55 RBIs.
On Friday afternoon, the Yankees continued their busy day with the signing of relief pitcher Andrew Miller. On Wednesday, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were a finalist to land him along with the Astros, and he ended up being correct. The Yankees signed the dominating lefty reliever to a four-year, $36 million contract.
The 29-year-old is coming off of a season where he pitched in 50 games for the Boston Red Sox and 23 for the Baltimore Orioles while recording an ERA of 2.02, 62.1 innings, 103 strikeouts, five wins and only 17 walks. David Robertson might not return because he also wants a four-year contract, but the Yankees should have a hard-throwing shutdown bullpen with Miller, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Jacob Lindgren and Esmil Rogers.
Lindgren was a second-round pick in June out of Mississippi State who is projected to make an impact. He had a 2.16 ERA across four levels of the minors this season.
Miller and Betances both have the ability to close, and they could be the closer by committee this season so they can both pitch in high leverage situations. Miller faced 64 batters in save situations last season and held them to a .070 average with 36 strikeouts. Miller (42.6%) and Betances (39.6%) ranked second and fourth among all relievers last season in strikeout rate. That’s a dominating and imposing lefty-righty combo at the back of the bullpen.
Miller has a career ERA of 4.91, but that is inflated because he struggled early in his career. From 2006 until 2011 his season ERA was never under 4.84, but he never pitched in more than 29 games in any of those seasons. He has proved to be much more successful the past three seasons with an increased work load in the prime of his career. He had a 3.35 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 2012, and in 2013, Miller had a 2.64 ERA with 48 strikeouts.
If Miller has a season similar to the one he had last season, and if Lindgren, Wilson or Warren can emerge as a reliable seventh-inning option, the Yankees bullpen could turn out to be similar to the one that helped the Kansas City Royals advance to the World Series in 2014. However, this bullpen dominance and comparison to that of the Royals last season would be even more comparable and if David Robertson returns.