BOSTON — The Yankees set an MLB record by hitting 19 home runs in their just-completed three-game sweep of the Blue Jays at the Stadium, but those games weren't nearly as exciting as Friday night's contest against the Red Sox.
After totaling 43 runs in their sweep of Toronto, they didn't have it nearly as easy this time.
The Yankees fell behind by four runs after six innings … but prevailed nonetheless, grinding out a 6-5 victory in 12 innings at Fenway Park to win their ninth straight game and 11th straight against their historic rival.
DJ LeMahieu, 0-for-4 with a walk going into the 12th, roped a two-out RBI double to rightfield off Ryan Weber for the go-ahead run.
The Yankees, in extra innings only because of Gary Sanchez’s tying two-out homer off Matt Barnes in the ninth, stayed 3 ½ games behind the AL East-leading Rays. At 30-21, they moved percentage points ahead of the Twins (31-22) for the fourth playoff spot in the American League. They also moved four games ahead of the third-place Blue Jays.
"It felt kind of like playoff baseball,'' Aaron Boone said. "It was cold, the wind picked up as the game went on. A lot of big situations, a lot of big pitches on both sides, a lot of big at-bats on both sides. For us to find a way coming off a big homestand and coming out and not playing well the first several innings . . . the guys didn’t mail it in at all. They fought their way back and found a way."
With runners at first and third and none out in the top of the 12th, Sanchez and Clint Frazier struck out, but LeMahieu came through.
Jonathan Loaisiga, who blew a chance at his first career big-league save in the 11th, got the job done in the 12th to record the victory.
Christian Vazquez began the inning at second, per the 2020 extra-innings rule, and went to third on Kevin Plawecki’s groundout to second. Loaisiga got Jackie Bradley Jr. to fly to center, not nearly deep enough for the slow-footed Vazquez to test the strong arm belonging to Aaron Hicks. Michael Chavis grounded to short to end the 4- hour, 55-minute contest, and the Yankees’ celebration could be heard reverberating throughout the empty ballpark.
"I just feel like we’re playing like we should be playing,'' LeMahieu said. "This is the kind of team, everyone clicking on all cylinders . . . We knew what we were capable of [in February] and we’re playing that way right now."
In the 10th, Aroldis Chapman got out of a second-and-third, one-out jam by striking out Bradley and Chavis. After each team picked up a run in the 11th on RBI singles by Luke Voit and Christian Arroyo (four RBIs), Loaisiga kept the game going by escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam, striking out J.D. Davis and getting Vazquez on a fly to right.
The Yankees trailed 4-0 before Sanchez lined a two-run double to right with two outs in the seventh (a third run might have scored on the hit if the ball had not hopped into the stands for a ground-rule double).
In the eighth, Aaron Judge singled with one out — his first hit since Aug. 26 — and scored on a double by Giancarlo Stanton to make it 4-3.
Then Sanchez tied it with a drive that just cleared the Green Monster in leftfield.
"It felt great,'' said Sanchez, who has 10 homers and four doubles among his 21 hits. "To be able to contribute and help the team there, definitely exciting. Big homer there."
Was he thinking homer? "I’m thinking put the ball in play, take a good swing at it,'' he said. "You never go out there looking for homers. For me, it’s just making contact and putting the ball in play."
"Huge,'' LeMahieu said. "Not the year he wanted probably statistically, but he’s had some huge homers for us, some big hits. He’s been looking really good at the plate. He’s been looking like himself the last week. Big for him and big for the team."
Jordan Montgomery allowed four runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out seven.
Red Sox lefthander Martin Perez, who entered 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA, was terrific. He allowed three hits in six scoreless innings in which he walked one and struck out seven.
After Perez struck out two in a perfect fourth, the Red Sox (20-32) finally broke through in the bottom half. Vazquez opened with a single and Bradley singled with one out. With Chavis at the plate, the runners executed a double steal. Montgomery struck out Chavis swinging at a ball in the dirt for the second out but left a 2-and-0 changeup over the middle of the plate to Arroyo, and the No. 9 hitter blasted it over the Green Monster and onto Lansdowne Street for a 3-0 lead.
Vazquez's RBI double in the fifth made it 4-0.
"It was definitely a grind,'' Boone said. "We didn’t play great, but I give our guys a lot of credit continuing to compete and really be energetic the second part of the game. That was a good win, especially from where we started. A lot of guys having a hand and doing some big things when it mattered."
Hours before that, Boone had said, "Blinders on, throttle down. I think this team clearly knows what we’re driving for. We want to put ourselves in a position to go and win a championship. Starting to feel it in the weather, it’s that time of year and I feel our focus is really good right now. We just want to continue with that."