Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images North America
In the beginning of the season, not too many people would have believed that Steven Wright would be the best pitcher in the Boston Red Sox rotation and David Price would be the worst. Price is a former Cy Young award winner and got signed to a huge contract in the offseason, while Wright was fighting just to pitch in the rotation.
As it turns out, the quite opposite of the expected continues to happen.
The Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees 5-1 on a cold Sunday night, avoiding the sweep. The Yankees took the first two games of the series, including tagging Price for six runs in 4.2 innings on Saturday. Steven Wright was terrific once again, pitching all nine innings. Wright got the win, while Luis Severino was handed with the loss.
With the win, Boston improves to 18-13, and remain tied for first place in the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles. New York falls to 11-18, and remain in last place in the division. For New York, tonight was the last game of the season without Aroldis Chapman, who will be eligible to return their next game after serving a suspension.
Wright’s best start of his career
Entering the game, Steven Wright quietly had the sixth best ERA in baseball at 1.67. The knuckleballer hasn’t received the most run support, however, as his record is 2-3. Although, through all his dominance this season, Wright had never tossed a full nine inning game in his career.
That all changed tonight.
Wright was terrific once again, and had the best performance of his career. The knuckleballer did end up tossing all nine innings, surrendering just three hits, one run, one walk, while striking out seven.
Brian McCann would single in the first inning, but the next Yankees hit would not come until the seventh. Starlin Castro would record that hit, ending a stretch where 16 straight Yankee hitters could not record a base hit. Castro would hit a double off the short right field wall, and would advance to third base after McCann’s fly out. Castro, however, would give Wright and the Red Sox a break. On a knuckleball that would get just under the glove of catcher Ryan Hanigan, Castro thought he had a chance to score, but the ball was not nearly far enough. Castro tried to retreat back to third base, but Hanigan threw him out, ending any pressure.
Unfortunately for Wright, his shutout ended on just one swing of the bat with two outs in the ninth. Brett Gardner would connect for his third home run of the year, putting the Yankees on the board and ending the shutout. Wright would go on to retire the next hitter, but just missed a shutout. Nonetheless, it was a terrific start for the knuckleballer.
Red Sox use power surge
All season long, the Red Sox have had a tremendous offense, but the only area in which they were lacking was their power. Although they had picked it up recently, Boston was still 13th in the AL in home runs with 24.
Tonight, however, the Red Sox showed no signs of that. Dustin Pedroia got the offense started right away for the Red Sox. After Mookie Betts reached on a leadoff double, Pedroia would go opposite field and just clear the short right field fence at Yankee Stadium, giving Boston a 2-0 lead. It was Pedroia’s fifth home run of the year. The year that Pedroia won the American League MVP in 2008, he was hitting .301 with one home run and 19 RBI through May 8th. This season, he’s hitting .306 with five home runs and 15 RBI. There is surely still a long way to go in the season, but Pedroia is certainly proving he is healthy once again.
Boston’s offense would continue in the fourth, and in a big way. David Ortiz, a player who has been a threat to the Yankees his entire career, added another historical home run in the fourth. With his 453rd home run with the Red Sox, Ortiz moved into sole possession of second on the all-time home run list for the Red Sox, passing the great Carl Yastrzemski. Ortiz only trails Ted Williams for the most home runs with the Red Sox, who hit 521. This home run was a shot, and was gone off the bat.
Ortiz, however, would not be satisfied with just 453. In his next at bat, Ortiz hit another home run. After taking advantage of a high pitch his second time up, Big Papi went down to take a low pitch out of the yard in his next at-bat. The Yankees just can’t wait for this man to retire — he’s done this for years against them.
Severino would depart in the seventh after going 6.2 innings and allowing five hits, four runs, one walk, three home runs, and striking out nine.
However, Boston’s big home run day would not come to an end. In the eighth inning, Xander Bogaerts, not known for his power, would take Chasen Shreeve deep. The ball just eclipsed the fence in left-center, giving Boston a 5-0 lead.
Boston goes back to Fenway Park for a home stand, and will face the Oakland Athletics first for a three game set. Clay Buchholz (1-3, 5.71 ERA) will go against Sonny Gray (3-3, 4.84 ERA) Monday night. New York stays at home and will face the defending champion Kansas City Royals, as Ivan Nova will get the nod against Chris Young.