An ugly performance by the Yankees on Thursday night brought about the ugliest of sights for their fans:
The Red Sox celebrating on the Stadium field.
Another home run by Luke Voit and a grand slam by Giancarlo Stanton provided noisy jolts to the evening, but it wasn’t enough to overcome sloppiness in the field and some atrocious pitching in an 11-6 loss to the Red Sox in front of a sellout crowd of 47,351.
The victory clinched the AL East title for the Red Sox a third straight year and allowed the A’s to climb within 1½ games of the Yankees (93-59) for homefield advantage for the AL wild-card game.
“Congratulations to the Red Sox on a great regular season,” said Aaron Boone, whose team won the first two games of the three-game set. “Would have been nice to finish off the start of a great series, but credit to them. They just kind of weren’t going to be denied today.”
The Red Sox (104-49), after being held down the first two games, erupted for 13 hits, including three homers, Thursday.
“Both juggernauts,” Stanton said, asked the difference between the two clubs but going no further.
Masahiro Tanaka came in 12-5 with a 3.47 ERA, allowing two earned runs or fewer in nine of his previous 11 starts, posting a 2.15 ERA in that span and brining a 20-inning scoreless streak into the night.
That ended in the first, a 31-pitch slog that saw the Red Sox take a 1-0 lead.
Tanaka, still a contender to start the wild-card game, did take a 6-4 lead into the fifth, courtesy of Stanton’s 35th homer of the season, a grand slam off Heath Hembree in the fourth. That followed Red Sox lefty starter Eduardo Rodriguez walking the bases loaded with two outs. Rodriguez allowed five runs and four hits over 3 2⁄3 innings.
Tanaka, however, could not provide a shutdown inning, allowing a Mookie Betts double and Andrew Benintendi single to start the fifth. (Betts went 4-for-5 with five RBI).
“You have to tip your hat to them,” Tanaka said. “We came back with Giancarlo’s big home run. After that you really want to shut down that fifth inning but I wasn’t able to do that. It was difficult for the relievers after that so I feel responsible for the loss.”
David Robertson did get a double-play ball off the bat of J.D. Martinez — which scored a run to make it 6-5 — then struck out Xander Bogaerts.
While Steven Wright settled down the game for Boston with three scoreless innings, the Yankees’ bullpen gaslit things.
After Chad Green struck out the side in the sixth, Jackie Bradley Jr. touched him for a leadoff homer to start the seventh, which tied it at 6-6.
The inning further unraveled.
Christian Vazquez singled and Dellin Betances came on to face Betts, who struck out. But Benintendi doubled and Martinez was intentionally walked, loading the bases for Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop lifted a fly ball to medium center where Aaron Hicks made the catch, then fired to third – over the cutoff man – as pinch runner Tzu-Wei Lin scored easily to make it 7-6.
Hicks’ throw short-hopped Miguel Andujar, who saw it deflect off his body and into the stands on the third-base side, the throwing error resulting in Benintendi being awarded home for an 8-6 lead.
Aroldis Chapman, activated from the disabled list on Wednesday, came on for the eighth. Rafael Devers greeted him with a single and, after Steve Pearce flied out, Bradley Jr. walked. Chapman struck out Sandy Leon but Betts, the Red Sox’s other MVP candidate (along with Martinez) blasted a towering three-run homer to left, his 30th of the season making it 11-6 and sending much of the crowd streaming for the exits.
“Credit to them,” Boone said. “Up and down their lineup they just outslugged us a little bit.”