Yankees stun Red Sox, scoring four two-out runs in eighth to erase three-run deficit
BOSTON — In many ways, the victory was as stunning as some of the shocking defeats that preceded it.
The Yankees, trailing the Red Sox by three runs entering the eighth inning Saturday — and looking as listless as they have all season at the plate, which is saying something — erupted for four runs with two outs in the frame to earn a 4-3 win in front of 35,135 at Fenway Park.
"We were down," Jameson Taillon said, "but not out."
The comeback allowed the Yankees (51-46) to pull within eight games of the AL East-leading Red Sox (60-39). They are 3-9 against Boston.
"This is a good one," Aaron Boone said. "We’ve had more than our share of gut punches the last month or so. To the guys’ credit, they keep getting off the mat, they keep fighting. It hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t been pretty, but we’re in the fight and we’re going to continue to do that."
Red Sox righthander Nathan Eovaldi cruised into the eighth with a 3-0 lead. Rookie Estevan Florial led off with a double off the Green Monster, and after Eovaldi retired two straight, Brett Gardner’s RBI single to right on an 0-and-2 curveball made it 3-1.
In came former Yankee Adam Ottavino, who allowed a bloop ground-rule double to right by Giancarlo Stanton to put runners on second and third. Two pitches later, the Yankees had the lead. Rougned Odor lined a tying two-run double off the Green Monster in left-center and Gleyber Torres blooped an RBI single to right.
"In the blink of an eye," Boone said, "we had the lead."
In the bottom half, Jonathan Loaisiga, just activated from the COVID-19 injured list, allowed two-out singles by Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers to put runners at the corners. But J.D. Martinez flied to right, where Greg Allen made the catch despite nearly being taken out by Florial to end the inning.
Aroldis Chapman, reinstated as the closer earlier in the week after being demoted before the All-Star break, added some theater in the ninth. With two outs, pinch hitter Hunter Renfroe walked and pinch hitter Christian Vazquez hit his own bloop ground-rule double to right, which put runners at second and third. Chapman fell behind Kike Hernandez 2-and-1 but struck him out swinging for his 18th save in 22 chances.
"I definitely feel very close," Chapman said through his interpreter. "Taking some positive steps in the right direction."
Taillon (6-4, 4.36) quietly was the hero of the day for the Yankees. The righthander allowed three runs (one earned) and four hits in seven innings. He is 5-0 with a 2.43 ERA in his last six starts.
Taillon’s day could not have started much worse. Hernandez led off and drove a 2-and-0 fastball off the Green Monster in left, with the ball bouncing off Florial’s head. Seeing that, Hernandez legged out a triple and was awarded home when Odor’s relay throw to third sailed into the Yankees’ dugout.
Martinez and former Met Kevin Plawecki doubled in the second to make it 2-0.
Odor’s second error helped the Red Sox take a 3-0 lead in the third. Jarren Duran led off with a grounder to second, and Odor failed to make a backhand grab. The ball bounded away to Odor’s left into the outfield grass and the hustling Duran took second. Bogaerts’ groundout to second moved Duran to third and Devers’ sacrifice fly to center delivered the run.
Eovaldi, while not at the status of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez — just to name a few — when it comes to Yankee-killers from the mound over the last 20 years, came into Saturday 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 appearances (nine starts) against his former team, including 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA in three previous starts this season. Eovaldi, who struck out eight and did not walk a batter, was charged with two runs and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings.
"The first [seven] innings, we weren’t very good," Gardner said. "It’s nice to come out of here with a win."
This being the Yankees, there naturally was an injury. First baseman Chris Gittens left the game after stepping on his bat and rolling his ankle while coming out of the box on a trickler in front of the plate to end the eighth. He was to undergo X-rays, and Boone said it was too soon to speculate on his availability for Sunday.