The New York Yankees went into Boston and swept the Red Sox this weekend, tilting the AL wild card race in the process. The latest victory came Sunday night in a wild 6-3 decision on Sunday Night Baseball.. Let's break down what we saw and what it means.
Yankees cough up lead with a case of the drops
Heading to the bottom of the seventh inning, it was a 2-1 Yankees lead and hadn't been all that exciting of a game. That all changed rather quickly. The Red Sox ended up tying it on a sac fly. Then, with two outs, Kyle Schwarber took the bat to pinch hit. He hit a lazy pop up in foul territory down the third-base line. Yankees third baseman D.J. LeMahieu dropped it, giving him new life. He ended up hitting a pretty routine fly ball to left field that should have ended the inning, but Joey Gallo dropped that and it scored the go-ahead run.
And the craziness was just getting started.
Red Sox return the favor and then Yankees drop the hammer
In the top of the eighth, an Anthony Rizzo double put the Yankees in position to take the lead with runners on second and third and one out. Aaron Judge stepped to the plate. He also hit a lazy pop up, this one down the first-base line, but Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec whiffed and gave Judge new life. Judge then appeared to strike out, but catcher Christian Vazquez dropped the ball and that gave Judge a third life of the at-bat. He then scorching a double to left center, giving the Yankees back the lead, this time 4-3.
And then Giancarlo Stanton hit his third huge home run of the series. 6-3 Yankees.
Controversial dropped third strike call?
Here's what happened on the would-be third strike to Judge:
Rule 5.05 (2) says the hitter is still alive if: "The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out." In this case, Judge got a piece of the ball, so it was simply a foul ball. The only thing we really have to go on here is "not caught." It's tough to judge it in slow motion, but it certainly seems like there's a case to be made that "caught" instead of "not caught" was the case here before Vazquez dropped the ball when he went to grab it with his bare hand to throw it back to the pitcher.
Regardless, the Stanton homer makes the discussion a touch less relevant, in addition to being able to say Dalbec should've already caught the ball to retire Judge.
Good Yankees pitching
Starter Jordan Montgomery allowed just one run in his five innings. Clay Holmes struck out all three hitters he faced in just 11 pitches. Chad Green got through his 1 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run and we should point out one of the three Red Sox runs came after two defensive drops.
Wild card fallout
The Yankees now hold the top wild card spot in the American League with the Red Sox being one game back. The Blue Jays and Mariners both won on Sunday, too, which means they creep just a bit closer to the final spot. The Athletics are technically still alive, too. Here's a snapshot:
- Yankees, 89-67, +1
- Red Sox, 88-69, --
- Blue Jays, 87-69, 1 game back
- Mariners, 86-70, 2 GB
- A's, 85-71, 3 GB
The Blue Jays host the Yankees for three games to start the last week of the season. The Mariners host the A's for three games as well. That's all kinds of fun. Meanwhile, the Red Sox should be able to recover, as they face the Orioles.