Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, July 15. While the Yankees took their second of 3 games from the Indians, they gained no ground thanks to a 10th-inning walk-off grand slam by the Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.
The Red Sox and Bluejays met at Fenway in the early afternoon while the Yankees were scheduled to play the Indians under the lights in Cleveland. A Red Sox’ defeat would take some of the heat off the Bronx Bombers following their hideous performance against the Orioles earlier this week. The first-place Red Sox however asked no quarter and gave none. It took extra innings and heroics by a man whose name is as difficult to spell as it is to pronounce but the Old Town Team walked off with a 6–2 win. Xander Bogaerts (Pronounced Bo Garts), a rare player from Aruba provided said heroics.
If you mention the name “Aruba” to Americans of a certain age, they think of Natalie Holloway, the newly-minted high school graduate who went to Aruba following high school … and has never been heard of since. Aruba is not subject to the draft, so the Red Sox were able to sign him at age 16 in 2009. 4 years later he joined the big league team in August and was on the roster when the Sox won their most recent World Series. He nearly won the batting title in 2015 and was named an All-Star the next year. He played hurt much of last year. He had two grand slams this season as play began yesterday. He had begun a game-tying rally in the 9th with a single and come around to score the tying run. That got embattled reliever Joe Kelly off the hook for putting the Red Sox behind the 8-ball after starter Eduardo Rodriguez left with an injured ankle. As Bogaerts stepped to the plate in a 2-2 game in the 10th, the sound person at Fenway played his walk-up music, something by a creature called “DMX.”
Most of the Red Sox’ heroics this season have been provided by Mookie Betts, who will be an All-Star starter Tuesday in Washington. He ignited this rally by reaching on an error. After a base knock by Brock Holt, the Jays chose to walk J.D. Martinez. On this year’s Red Sox club it’s a case of “pick your poison.” With or without his two grand slams, Bogaerts hasn’t been the hitter he was in 2015, so the Jays hoped for the best. After serving up two balls, the Jays’ Chris Rowley let fly a batting practice fastball and Bogaerts didn’t miss. And how he didn’t miss. It’s 420 feet to dead center at Fenway. In spite of that absurd depth, his shot was a no-doubter, a “wicked shot” to his fans north of highway 84. I won’t print what Yankee fans (or victimized pitching coaches) call a shot like that. By unloading 3 grand slams before the end of July, Bogaerts joins some elite company among the Red Sox. Manny Ramirez did it, so did Dick Stewart, aka Dr. StrangeGlove. Most surprising of all, a Red Sox lefty pitcher who was converted into an outfielder because of World War I hit 3 grand slams from April to the end of July the season before he was sent to the Yankees. Yes, George Herman “Babe” Ruth did it when nobody thought much about home runs, much less 4-baggers with the bases full.
While the Yankees have a 62–32 record, they’re still 3.5 games behind the Red Sox whose insane mark is 67–30. The Red Sox need a prolonged bad stretch at the same time as the Yankees get hot, and so far what has happened has been just the reverse. The Red Sox have won 9 of their last 10 while the Yankees are just 6-4 in their last 10 including those two losses to the Orioles which may haunt them come October. The Orioles have just 27 wins against 69 losses, a .281 percentage, approaching that of the 1962 Mets who finished their initial season at 40–120, a .250 percentage. The Yankees stayed where they were thanks to a 5-4 win over the Indians. Didi Gregorius hit an early 3-run home run, after which Greg Bird hit a solo shot. The Indians had leveled the game at 4 by the 7th inning. The Yankees’ final run, the one which ultimately won the game came about on one of the stranger plays you’ll see. Austin Romine was at the dish. Some 30 years ago, his dad played for the Red Sox. Now, Austin and his brother Andrew are both in the show. Romine, playing while Gary Sanchez is on the DL hit a double which certainly should have been routine. As the ball rolled to the base of the wall in distant right center, the Tribe’s Brandon Guyer goofed up as he tried to field the ball and throw it in. When he finally unloaded, Romine was reaching third. Guyer managed to throw the ball to the cutoff man, second baseman Erik Gonzalez. His relay skipped past third baseman Jose Ramirez and headed for the Indians’ dugout. In spite of pitcher Mike Clevinger’s best effort to grab the ball, it finished up in the dugout which allowed Romine to score. With the score 5-4 the Yankees’ bull pen did what they usually do. They stopped the Tribe cold. David Robertson won his second decision in 2 nights, moving him to 7–3. Dellin Betances worked the 8th and Aroldis Chapman handled the 9th, doing what the cavalry used to do in a John Ford western.0