Here is Part I of my three-day, three-game trip to Boston.
Tuesday night sucked. And to top off the 14-1 embarrassment, drinking Coors Lights for about five hours straight (and trying one or two of Brittni’s Angry Orchard Rosés) led to a brutal hangover on Wednesday. It didn’t matter that I had pizza from two different places, both near the end of the game and then again after the game. I crushed the breakfast buffet at the hotel and then took an afternoon nap. Then a few hours before the game, we went to Eataly where I had more pizza, and then it was time to get ready for the game.
We had to stop at my friend’s apartment on Comm. Ave. to pick up Brittni’s bag (it only had her whole life in it) that she left there the night before (Angry Orchard Rosé will do that to you) walking over to Fenway Park for the second game of the series.
Thanks to getting stuck by the slowest people in the slowest moving line in the history of event entrances, I was watching on a TV when Brett Gardner led off the game with a single and Aaron Judge walked before Giancarlo Stanton rocked a two-run triple to the deepest part of the park up against the 420 sign. At first I thought Stanton had struck out or grounded into a double play given the crowd’s reaction, but that’s just how many Yankees fans were in Fenway.
In recent seasons, there have been more and more “Let’s Go Yankees” chanting breaking out in Fenway, something I would have never imagined between my first Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway in 1999 and 2004. Even in the few seasons after 2004, Fenway was still a scary place for Yankees fans to wear Yankees apparel, and the score would determine your safety after the game. But now people openly tell Jackie Bradley Jr. he sucks and yell obscenities at the Red Sox on their home field. It’s beautiful.
Somehow it was even colder than the night before. The wind was whipping around and in Section 34 in straightaway center field (the same viewpoint as what you see on TV), down below on Lansdowne Street, an aspiring musician or a crazy person with a few empty buckets (I’m going with the latter) drummed away the whole game. Drumming is actually not what he was doing, but rather just hitting the drum over and over like a metronome with no beat or rhythm. People in our section were pooling together money to throw down to him to make him stop, but the “drumming” lasted the entire game except for a few momentary breaks.
I didn’t think much of Tyler Wade’s groundout in the top of the third inning other than that maybe Tyler Wade isn’t very good and just an AAAA player. But then Tyler Austin and Brock Holt came together at second base as a result of that groundout and the benches cleared, and the “Yankees suck” chants began right on cue. Austin had slid a little to aggressively for Holt’s liking, and the two players barely hanging on to being Major Leaguers caused the benches to clear and hundreds of millions of dollars of baseball assets sprinting for second base. Both ownership groups were probably happy thinking about what a fight and a renewed rivalry would do for their wallets, while also worried about all of the money at stake in an actual brawl.
Austin had reached base on an RBI single that gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead. It was going to take a much more lopsided score for the Red Sox to throw at Austin if they really felt his slide was over the top. When Gary Sanchez crushed his second two-run home run of the game in the fourth, the Yankees had an 8-1 lead, and the Red Sox had the deficit they needed to throw at Austin.
Austin’s at-bat in the fifth came and went as he struck out against Heath Hembree on four pitches. In the bottom of the fifth, Masahiro Tanaka unraveled as the Red Sox scored five runs, including their second grand slam in as many nights, this one from J.D. Martinez. Suddenly, the lopsided Yankees blowout was now an 8-6 game. I wasn’t thinking about whether or not there would be a fight, I was thinking about how this game would join my list of bad Yankees games at Fenway Park. Losing this game would be the worst Yankees loss at Fenway Park for me since Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS.
Thankfully, the Yankees added two insurance runs in the sixth and Chad Green pitched a shutdown inning in the bottom of the inning to keep the Yankees’ lead at 10-6. Austin was due up in the seventh, but the game was still close.
Joe Kelly is a loser. I thought that long before Wednesday’s game. Wednesday’s game did nothing other than reinforce my opinion about him: loser. In 2015, Kelly told the media he would win the AL Cy Young award. It wasn’t said in jest. It was said in all seriousness and said a few times. Kelly made 25 starts in 2015, pitching to a 4.82 ERA and 1.444 WHIP. Cy Young indeed. He’s basically Nathan Eovaldi. All the velocity in the world and can’t strike anyone out.
Kelly tried to drill Austin, but his command is so bad that he missed, so he tried again, and this time he didn’t miss. Austin slammed his bat on the plate and then went right for Kelly as Kelly stood there with his glove begging Austin to come fight him. Kelly is 6-foot-1, 190 lbs. Austin is 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. Size isn’t everything in a fight, but knowing the demeanors of both, if Christian Vazquez hadn’t pulled on Austin’s jersey to trip him up right before he reached Kelly, Kelly’s career might be over. Luckily for Kelly, Judge came in to play referee and not play enforcer. He put Kelly in a headlock and with the help of Stanton, the two mammoth Yankees moved the entire pile of both teams across the infield.
“Yankees suck” filled the Fenway air as everyone tried their best to see who was throwing punches and who was taking punches. When the dust settled, the umpires took what felt like three hours to sort it all out as the temperature dropped. Phil Nevin came out to argue his ejection as the Fenway played “Let It Go” from Frozen. Brittni, wearing flats in the freezing temperatures, began to look like Anna near the end of Frozen (sorry for the spoiler), and the game still hadn’t restarted.
The game was long from over. Neither team scored in the seventh or eighth and the Yankees were once again scoreless in the ninth. With a four-run lead and desperately needing a win, Aaron Boone called on the highest-paid reliever in baseball to close out the game against the team he is barely ever able to close out a game against.
Here is what I wrote earlier in the season about Aroldis Chapman:
After watching Aroldis Chapman pitch for the Yankees for four months of 2016 and all of 2017, I know there are two Aroldis Chapmans. There’s the Good Aroldis Chapman, who comes in and there is actually a 0 percent chance anyone will reach base and close to a 0 percent chance that anyone might even make contact. Then there’s the Bad Aroldis Chapman, who comes in and need 30 pitches to get through the inning, if he even gets through the inning, as every triple-digit fastball is fouled straight back or hit for a line drive and every slider is sat on or misses the strike zone completely. This appearance was a combination of the two.
Bad Aroldis Chapman was in for the Yankees.
Jackie Bradley Jr., who is on his way out of the majors, singled to lead off the ninth, and then Christian Vazquez doubled to move Bradley to third. Fenway Park was on its feet and I felt like I was going to throw up all over myself. Here is what was at stake with a Yankees loss:
- A third straight loss to fall to 5-7
- A second straight loss to the Red Sox
- Blowing an 8-1 lead two games after blowing a 5-0 lead
- Losing a game in which the benches cleared twice
- Watching your $86 million blow a four-run, ninth-inning lead to your rival
(On top of that, I had a four team parlay and the Yankees were the last team I needed to win it.)
Thankfully, Sandy Leon flew out on the first pitch of his at-bat for the first out of the inning and I could breathe for a second. The runners on base meant nothing, as did the batter at the plate. Just keep the tying run out of the batter’s box, and never let the go-ahead run get to the plate.
Mookie Betts battled Chapman as Chapman looked gas and like he might walk the park. Behind 3-1 in the count, I felt like dry heaving with Rafael Devers on deck and visions of Devers home run off Chapman last season started to replay in my head.
Chapman threw the best two pitches he will probably throw this season to Betts for a called strike 2 and a swinging strike 3 and there were two outs in the inning.
Devers came up to the plate and a wild pitch from Chapman scored Bradley to make it 10-7. But Vazquez and Devers still meant nothing. Hanley Ramirez standing in the on-deck circle meant everything.
Chapman struck out Devers to avoid the worst Yankees regular-season loss of my lifetime (no exaggeration given everything at stake). Brittni got warm and she got some sushi and she promised to never wear flats to an April baseball game in Boston again.
The Yankees were back to .500 and the Red Sox’ nine-game winning streak had been stopped.
Part III of my three-day, three-game trip to Boston coming tomorrow.