The Yankees’ starting outfield Sunday night, in a key AL East battle against the first-place Red Sox, went this way:
Ryan LaMarre in left. Greg Allen in center. Trey Amburgey in right.
And they couldn’t even make it through the game with that trio. Amburgey left with a right hamstring cramp after unsuccessfully trying to beat out a double-play ball in the fourth inning.
And in the fifth, LaMarre slammed into the rightfield wall, back-first, in pursuit of Christian Vazquez’s double. He went down and stayed there for a few moments but remained in the game.
"I told Boonie, ‘I’m not coming out of the game,’ ’’ LaMarre said after hitting a two-run homer in the eighth in the Yankees’ 9-1 win at the Stadium. "You don’t get too many chances to wear the pinstripes. I want to take advantage of every inning I’m out there."
The Amburgey injury and the LaMarre scare came after Tim Locastro went on the injured list with a knee injury and Aaron Judge tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days — which came after outfielders Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier went on the IL.
The Yankees’ makeshift lineup also featured Chris Gittens at first base. None of it seemed a recipe for a win. But they got one, thanks to a third straight terrific outing by Jameson Taillon, a second homer in as many days from Gleyber Torres, a break-it-open two-run homer by Rougned Odor and a tack-on blast by LaMarre.
LaMarre, who woke up Sunday morning in Worcester with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes- Barre and found out he had been called up, said of the contributions from the Scranton crew: "It felt great. Obviously, we know this is an important stretch of games. We’ve all been playing together in Scranton for two, three months now, so we’re pulling for each other. We’re just trying to contribute any way we can. We’re definitely going to try and be aggressive."
The Yankees (48-44) won two straight against the Red Sox (56-38) after losing the first game of the series (which had dropped them to 0-7 against Boston). They moved within seven games of the Red Sox after outscoring them 12-2 in the last two games.
"Just really pleased with the level of focus and energy the guys have come in with each and every day,’’ Aaron Boone said. "We lose the first game of this series, it’s easy to be deflated, and nobody was . . . Everyone kind of had a hand in it [Sunday’s victory], starting with J-Mo [Taillon], who pitched outstanding. Up and down the order, you saw everyone contributing. Definitely a good win to get over a team we’re chasing."
Taillon (5-4) went the first 5 1⁄3 innings and has allowed three runs in 18 1⁄3 innings in his last three starts. He has won his last four decisions.
"I knew that wasn’t the pitcher I was. I knew I had a lot more to offer than what I was offering,’’ he said of his early struggles this season. "We’re still not all the way there. Didn’t have my best stuff by any means, but I was able to keep the team with a lead, and that’s a big deal."
The righthander took a 3-0 lead into the sixth but was replaced by Chad Green after consecutive one-out hits by J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts put runners at second and third.
Green struck out Rafael Devers and got Hunter Renfroe to ground to third.
After Torres homered in the second, the Yankees made it 2-0 in the third. Allen had a one-out single and went to third on DJ LeMahieu’s single to right. Giancarlo Stanton then beat the relay throw on a grounder to short to short-circuit a double play, allowing Allen to score.
Odor opened the fifth by dragging a bunt up the first-base line for a single. LaMarre poked one to right for an opposite-field single, and when Renfroe made a wild throw to third in an attempt to get Odor, LaMarre took second. Garrett Whitlock replaced starter Martin Perez, and Allen’s sacrifice fly to center made it 3-0.
Odor hit a 419-foot two-run homer off lefty Darwinzon Hernandez into the bleachers in right-centerfield in the seventh. LaMarre and Allen then walked, and two outs later, Brandon Workman walked Gary Sanchez, Torres and Gittens to make it 7-0.
Zack Britton picked up two strikeouts and allowed two walks in the eighth before being replaced by Lucas Luetge, who allowed an RBI single by Renfroe. LaMarre’s opposite-field two-run homer in the eighth made it 9-1.
That was a large enough cushion for Boone to bring in struggling Aroldis Chapman for the ninth. He retired Kevin Plawecki on a fly ball that drove Brett Gardner to the centerfield wall, struck out Bobby Dalbec on a splitter and got Kike Hernandez on a grounder.