By: Andrew Tashian
The Red Sox have relied heavily on the left handed arms of Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz this season. They've combined for 26 wins this season and Boston will undoubtedly need both men if they plan on to play for a World Championship. So when Pomeranz was removed from last night's game, after getting just one out in the Top of the 4th inning, the Fenway Faithful and entire Red Sox Nation held their collective breaths.
Boston headed into Friday night with a modest 4 game lead on their bitter division rivals and Pomeranz is a big reason the Red Sox have been playing so well as of late. Big Smooth is 8-1 since May 20th, the game he infamously engaged John Farrell in a dugout argument, and was showing no indication that anything could slow him down.
Back spasms, however, will slow down any pitcher. Pomeranz is no different. A lot has been made of the fact that Pomeranz has never pitched 150 innings in a season, but to think that slipping on a rainy pitcher's mound is his fault, or that he's soft, is inappropriate & irresponsible.
To think he's Clay Buchholz is blasphemous.
That's pretty wild, folks. Comparing Boston's second best pitcher to a perennial head case. Drew Pomeranz doesn't have a single ounce of Clay Buchholz in him. Clay Buchholz never fought the manager, even when Farrell dragged him with candid remarks every year.
Now we don't know if these back spasms will cause Pomeranz to miss a start, but if it's something that'll keep him out, it would appear that Pawtucket's Brian Johnson or Hector Velasquez are probable replacements. Missing starts would not equate him to Buchholz. Nothing equates him to Buchholz.
No question about it, the Red Sox need Pomeranz in October, hell, they need him in September. With the bats as inconsistent as they've been, the Sale/Pomeranz 1-2 punch has been the glue to hold the project together all season. With the Yankees fresh off a 4 game sweep of the Mets, they'll surely see any time missed by Red Sox starting pitchers as a ripe opportunity to gain ground on the Sox.
The Red Sox struck early on a second inning 2-run HR by Future HOFer Rafael Devers, into the monster seats, followed by a moon shot hit by Christian Vazquez in the 5th. It was Rafael's 4th dinger in his last 5 games [7th overall] and Vazquez's 3rd this season, all coming at Fenway Park.
Having an off day proved to beneficial because the bullpen was needed to get 20 outs. Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Robby Scott, Heath Hembree, Addison Reed & Craig Kimbrel were all used.
Workman was impressive as he continued his remarkable season. He came in for 1.2 innings and allowed a hit & a walk. A very clutch outing for a reliever who was called on to replace an injured pitcher mid-inning, that's not an easy task.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, he now has 11 straight scoreless appearances & a 1.48 ERA.
Matt Barnes followed in the 6th, and he's been very good at Fenway this year. Just not on Friday. Walks have been an issue for Barnes, but he didn't walk a single man. Instead he have up 4 hits including a 2 run bomb to Todd Frazier and couldn't finish the inning after retiring only two Yankee hitters.
Red Sox flame throwing righty Joe Kelly got the opportunity to play damage control. Coming in with two runners on, he hit Gary Sanchez and was rewarded with a chance to face Aaron Judge with the bases loaded. And on the 12th pitch of the inning, Kelly pitched Judge into an inning ending ground out to SS.
However, Gary Sanchez led off the 7th inning taking Kelly's 13th pitch for a 435 foot HR way out of Fenway Park to tie the game at 3. After allowing an additional walk and hit, Kelly exited with two runners on & 21 pitches thrown. Three runs total were charged to Kelly and he'll obviously need to be much better than he's been.
The self-predicted 2015 AL Cy Young couldn't get more than an out.
Relief pitcher Heath Hembree took over the 7th inning & things went badly. He walked the first batter to load the bases and the Yankees capitalized.
Ronald Torreyes launched a wall ball single to make it 5-3 NYY and by the time the top of the 7th inning was completed, Boston was down 6-3. A complete shit-show performance by Hembree as he exited after allowing a H, BB and two inherited & three total runners to score in just 0.1 IP...YIKES.
Robby Scott was the next Red Sox pitcher to walk the plank. Walking his first batter, the Yankees filled up the bases for the third time in just two innings. Scott proceeded to hit Aaron Hicks, keeping the bases full.
Another one bites the dust.
Scott was promptly removed from the game and, hopefully, from the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts after failing to record an out.
A rare 7th inning bright spot for Red Sox fans as Addison Reed came in to face Judge and struck him out, an MLB record 35th consecutive game the likely AL Rookie of the Year has fanned. Reed got Sanchez to line out and the Yankees took a 6-3 lead into the 8th.
But like so many Fenway summer nights, the late innings are when the Red Sox like to make magic happen.
After a sac fly by Betts to cut the lead to two, Andrew Benintendi extended his career high 11 game hitting streak by lacing an RBI single to RF, making it 6-5 NYY.
Fenway was feelin' it. After a Ramirez walk, Mitch Moreland pinch-hit for Chris Young with the bases loaded, looking to hit Boston's first Grand Slam of the season.
Red Sox fans would have to settle for a 2 out, 2 strike, 2 run, go ahead single! Clutch hitting from Moreland made John Farrell look like Albert Einstein and Fenway was electric!
Reed stayed on for the 8th inning & was impressive. He allowed 1 BB, struck out 3 and faced 6 batters. Definitely his best & most important outing of his brief Red Sox career. Reed earned his first win with the club & showed he possesses true value to the Sox bullpen.
In the bottom of the 8th inning, Red Sox strengthened their ownership of Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. Boston touched him up for two monumental insurance runs, highlighted by a double steal, and embarrassed the Yankee lefty for the second time in 8 days.
Boston Red Sox all-star closer Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the Yankee 9th earning his 29th save of the season.
Capping a memorable comeback during another magical Boston summer night, the Red Sox improved to 70-51 & stretched their division lead to 5 games.
Rafael Devers & Certified Yankee Killah Andrew Benintendi each continued their hot stretches while JBJ had two enormous RBIs for Boston, as the young guns came up huge again.
Certainly a rough night for Red Sox relievers not named Reed, Workman or Kimbrel, the Red Sox biggest worry has to be the health of Drew Pomeranz. They'll need him to be healthy and at his best the remainder of 2017, because tonight's starter Chris Sale, can't do it alone.
Final Score: Red Sox 9 - Yankees 6
W: Reed L: Kahnle S: Kimbrel
Photo Credit: (Over The Monster)