Eduardo Nunez has been red-hot at the plate since joining the Boston Red Sox, entering Sunday's game against the rival New York Yankees batting a blistering.390 with four homers in his first 13 games.
This time, though, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who had come on in the ninth to strike out Gardner with a runner at third, zipped through the heart of the Yankees' order. Sox starter Chris Sale, who didn't factor into the decision, pitched seven innings and allowed just one earned run on four hits.
He also struck out struggling slugger Aaron Judge twice and got the right fielder to hit into a double play in the fifth.
Boston improves to 67-50 with the victory, while NY falls to 61-55.
The result was a killer 3-2 loss that leaves the Yankees 5 ½ games back of the Sox, rather than 3 ½, a difference that obviously could prove pivotal in this race for the AL East title.
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Here's how it all went down.
Benintendi then lined a 1-1 fastball into the center-field seats for a 5-2 lead.
Chase Headley singled with one out and was still on first when Romine drove a two-out, 0-2 fastball from Sale to deep right.
He ran into some trouble in the fifth, though. In three 2017 games against the Yankees, he is 0-1 with a 1.19 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 22 2⁄3 innings. He stands a great chance of becoming the fourth pitcher of the century to record 300 strikeouts in a season (Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Clayton Kershaw). Sale blew a 99 miles per hour fastball - his fastest pitch of the night - past Romine to end the seventh frame. Sale threw a wild pitch to move a runner to second base in the seventh inning. But in 7 1/3 innings over three games this weekend, the bullpen allowed eight runs almost resulting in two losses.
- Robby Scott relieved Barnes and struck out Didi Gregorious to end the eighth inning.
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Manager John Farrell opened himself to criticism in the ninth when he tried to remove reliever Addison Reed in the middle of an at-bat against Jacoby Ellsbury. Headley advanced to third after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout. Two pitches later, Betts lined a single to left to tie the game.
Bradley Jr. was hitting just.200 in his past 120 at-bats, but he singled into center to score Brock Holt and give the Sox a 1-0 lead.
Two outs away from a win Chapman gave up an opposite-field homer to left to neophyte Devers (15th big league game) in the ninth that tied the score 2-2 and sucked the life out of the colossal crowd that booed Chapman when he recorded the third out of the inning.
Benintendi has also hit 11 of his 16 total home runs on the road while driving in 39 of his 65 RBI's on the road as well.
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