During spring training, Alex Rodriguez took one look at what the Yankees’ regular-season lineup might accomplish and made a prediction.
“It has an opportunity to be record-breaking and put up numbers we have not seen in a really long time,” he said on March 19 in Tampa.
With their former slugger and occasional team adviser looking on in his role as an ESPN analyst Sunday night, the Yankees continued to build on a historic first-half offensive resume.
Aaron Hicks hit three of their six home runs and Luis Severino pitched 6 2⁄3 scoreless innings as the Yankees earned an 11-1 win over the Red Sox before a sellout crowd of 46,795 at the Stadium. “That’s as good a night as we’ve had all year,’’ Aaron Boone said. “That’s a peek at what we can do when we’re really clicking.”
A night after being outhit 17-2 in an 11-0 loss, the Yankees outhit the Red Sox 16-4. The Yankees (54-27, .667), who hit four home runs in their 8-1 victory in the series opener, pulled into a virtual tie with the Red Sox (56-29, .659) atop the AL East.
Aaron Judge (No. 22), Gleyber Torres (No. 15) and Kyle Higashioka (first major-league hit) also hit home runs, with five of the six coming off David Price. Hicks has 14 home runs. “We have a great offense,’’ Severino said, “but today it was amazing.”
Exactly halfway through the season, the Yankees set a franchise record by hitting their 137th homer before the All-Star break. The previous record was the 134 they hit in the 2002 and 2012 seasons. The 1997 Mariners own the major-league record for home runs in a season with 264 (Rodriguez had 23 of them).
On occasion this season, the even-tempered Boone has appeared exasperated after hearing questions that suggest that his team, in essence, hits too many home runs.
“Look, we have power. We’re going to hit the ball out of the ballpark,” he said. “A lot of times, mistakes that we get that we hit well get put in the seats. That’s just how we’re built, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Hicks’ three-homer night was the first by a Yankee since . . . A-Rod, of course, who did it July 25, 2015, in Minnesota. Hicks is the first Yankees leadoff hitter to hit three homers in a game.
Severino, coming off seven shutout innings in Philadelphia, allowed two hits and three walks. He is 13-2 with a 1.98 ERA, the lowest among American League starters, and a 0.95 WHIP. He is 11-1 with a 1.70 ERA in his last 15 starts, and the Yankees went 14-1 in those games. Said Boone, “He set the tone again.”
Judge (three hits) hit a drive onto the netting overhanging Monument Park in the first, an inning in which Torres added a three-run blast to right-center that made it 4-0 and showed Price that it again was not going to be his night against the Yankees.
The lefthander entered the night 9-5 with a 3.66 ERA this season, but the numbers that matter were these: 15-12 with a 4.67 ERA against the Yankees, including 2-5 with a 7.42 ERA in eight previous starts against them while wearing a Boston uniform.
Price added to those ignominious numbers, allowing eight runs and nine hits, including five homers, in 3 1⁄3 innings.
“I felt fine,” he said. “They put some good swings on what I felt were some pretty good pitches.”
Hicks’ two-run homer made it 6-0 in the second. Higashioka and Hicks homered and Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth, Price’s final inning, for a 9-0 lead. Hicks’ third home run and Neil Walker’s RBI single made it 11-0 in the eighth.
Higashioka’s blast into the second deck in leftfield came on a 1-and-2 cutter and snapped a 0-for-22 start for the third-string catcher. “The feeling’s indescribable,” he said. “But the thing I was most concerned about going into tonight was making sure we got a big win against the Red Sox. That’s what I’m most happy about.”
Boone gave his top relievers some work in the ninth. After J.D. Martinez struck out against Dellin Betances, Sandy Leon doubled against Aroldis Chapman and scored on a forceout.