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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

It’s a wacky day (and night) at Fenway for Yankees

The Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury, Didi Gregorius and Aaron Judge,

The Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury, Didi Gregorius and Aaron Judge, from left, celebrate after beatinrg the Red Sox 4-1 in 16 innings in Boston on July 15, 2017.  Credit: AP / Michael Dwyer


And after all that, nearly six hours and exactly 16 innings, don’t forget that the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Red Sox is still under protest, courtesy of Boston manager John Farrell.

Funny, right? Actually we just inserted that as comic relief, because there’s zero chance anything will come of Farrell’s claims of interference, born of Matt Holliday inadvertently breaking up a double play by reversing field and scrambling headlong into first base after already being forced at second.

Holliday was the reason everyone was still there in the 11th inning, thanks to his tying home run off Craig Kimbrel that soared over the Green Monster and silenced Fenway Park in the ninth — not to mention ruined Chris Sale’s 13-strikeout gem.

Holliday’s hair-on-fire jitterbug on the basepaths was pretty hilarious, only because we all wondered where he was going. He definitely prevented Mitch Moreland from grabbing the double-play relay, but after two video reviews — one was for a rules check — the umpires let Holliday stay at first after the protest by Farrell.

“I assumed he was going to tag the base,” Holliday said, referring to Jacoby Ellsbury’s chopper to Moreland. “I wasn’t going to run into the tag. That’s what I thought was happening.”

Afterward, crew chief Gary Cederstrom was asked his take on the unusual proceedings and didn’t offer much. In his judgment, was it interference?

“No,” Cederstrom told a pool reporter. “It’s under protest, so the rest of it you’re going to have to get from the office.”

That’s OK. We’ll wait for the official dismissal, which in keeping with the day’s theme is going to turn out to be a whole lot of nothing. Holliday’s mad dash, along with Farrell’s complaint, never amounted to much. Just another scoreless inning in a game that featured 13 of them. The only thing of substance was the final score, which was nudged along by Didi Gregorius’ tiebreaking single in the 16th.

“We wanted to win this one for a lot of reasons,” said Tyler Clippard, who chipped in with a scoreless eighth. “For us to come out on top was huge.”

Clippard was part of the Yankees’ eight-pitcher conga line, a parade started by Luis Severino, who struck out six and allowed one run in seven innings. Not only did the embattled Clippard survive unscathed, but Aroldis Chapman — who melted down Friday night and walked in the winning run — made Joe Girardi feel somewhat relieved by getting the Yankees through the 14th. Still no strikeouts, however.

“Chappy shut them down,” Girardi said, “and then it was Ben Heller’s game.”

Not totally. Girardi still sent CC Sabathia out to the bullpen during the 16th for an emergency, and the Yankees announced at about 11 p.m. that Sabathia — not Bryan Mitchell — will start Game 1 of Sunday’s split doubleheader, basically because Girardi badly needs him to chew up substantial innings, with Mitchell on standby for relief.

Fortunately for the Yankees, Heller kept the Red Sox in check for two innings and they survived the longest game by innings between the two clubs at Fenway since 1966. At 5 hours, 50 minutes, it was the fourth- longest Fenway game, by time, since 1913.

“It was an important win,” Girardi said.

Sale’s dominance, though not completely unexpected, had curious timing. A day earlier, Brian Cashman spoke cautiously about the Yankees’ approach leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, wary of dealing prospects for a single player — or, more specifically, a front-end starting pitcher — who would potentially mortgage the future.

It was a similar conversation to the one Cashman held in his hotel room during the winter meetings in December, minutes after the Red Sox pulled off the Sale swap by shipping two of their top kids, including No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada, to the White Sox. Seven months later, however, the Yankees must wish another Sale was available on the market.

Sale buzzed through a postcard Fenway afternoon with 7 2⁄3 scoreless innings. Of his 13 strikeouts, all but one of them were swinging. The Yankees touched him for a pair of doubles, a leadoff shot by Starlin Castro in the second and Gary Sanchez’s liner in the third, but those were the only two to reach scoring position against him.

The last two pitchers to post a 13-strikeout performance (with no runs) against the Yankees were Pedro Martinez (May 30, 2001) and Roger Clemens (Sept. 30, 1987). As you can tell by the dates, it doesn’t happen very often.

Then again, Sale is the perfect foil for this rivalry. This performance trimmed his career ERA vs. the Yankees to 1.17, the lowest for any opposing pitcher (minimum 50 innings).

Impressive, but reduced to a footnote. What Sale did felt like ancient history by the 16th. And the Yankees won anyway.

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