The Yankees easily dispatched of the Red Sox in a two-game sweep at the Stadium in mid-April. That began the 30-10 stretch the Yankees brought into Friday night's series opener against the Red Sox in the Bronx.
It's a run that in Aaron Boone's eyes had its origins in the Astros' three-game sweep of the Yankees on April 8-10 in Houston.
“Honestly, in a way, I felt like [the hot streak started] when we got swept in Houston,” Boone said. “I felt like we were close there.”
In the first game of the series, a 4-3 loss, Chad Green and Adam Ottavino teamed to blow a late lead. In that game, the Yankees had more success against Justin Verlander than they had in several years, tagging him for three runs and seven hits in six innings. Entering the night, Verlander had been 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA in four starts against the Yankees since joining the Astros, which included his masterful performance (2-0 with a 0.56 ERA) in the 2017 ALCS.
A night later, the Yankees built a 3-2 lead against another stud Astros pitcher, Gerrit Cole, but saw Zack Britton help flush it in the seventh as part of a 6-3 loss. (Clint Frazier, mostly good with his bat but mostly bad in the field this season, misplayed a pair of balls in leftfield that significantly contributed to the loss). The Astros then completed the sweep with an 8-6 victory as the Yankees rallied late but fell short after James Paxton put them in an early five-run deficit.
Still, the series stood out to Boone as mostly positives.
“Even there when we struggled a little bit early and obviously we were getting dinged up, all along I felt like we’re OK, just in the way the guys were dealing with things and handling things,” Boone said. “[In the Houston series], we had Cole and Verlander and had them both beat, and then lost leads late. We lost some tough games there but I thought we were close. Then I felt like we came home and have really played well [since].”
Now the Yankees have an opportunity to continue that against the Red Sox, who entered this series in third place in the AL East, 7 ½ games behind the Yankees.
An undercurrent to this series, regardless of whether the players and managers want to specifically acknowledge it, is an opportunity for the Yankees to send their rival into an insurmountable AL East deficit.
“From that standpoint, it’s day to day for me,” Boone said. “I feel like we’re in a really good place a third of the way through the season. Our guys have played well, but there’s a long way to go, and we really just, as much as we can, focus on the day.”