This was going to be the game for the Red Sox.
The one that put the Yankees on their heels in the race for the Wild Card’s top spot. The one that allowed Alex Cora's crew to recollect the optimism lost the night before. The one that showed this version of the Red Sox could beat this version of the New Yorkers.
Nick Pivetta did his part as the starting pitcher, holding the visitors to just one run over 5 1/3 innings. Reliever Hansel Robles helped the Sox keep their lead in the sixth inning by stranding the potential game-tying run. And Tanner Houck found himself one out from setting up a very manageable path to closing out the final frame.
But the Yankees weren’t quite ready to change the narrative that had been built between the two teams since the trade deadline. And now they are 5-0 against the Sox since that July 30 jumping point.
Yankees 5, Red Sox 3. And now we have a dead heat the Wild Card race.
“It’s always like this," said Cora. "We have two good teams and I think in this division, nobody is going to dominate the other teams. It happens. I think there was a season where I think the Red Sox were up 9-0 and they finished 10-9 or something like that. It’s two good teams and if you look at the margins of the scores early on, they were close games, too. We just have two good teams that they’re fighting for the same thing and they get the best out of each other.”
This time the punctuation put on by the Yankees came with one Giancarlo Stanton swing of the bat on a 94.3, middle-of-the-plate fastball from Darwinzon Hernandez. An eighth inning that had started with two outs and nobody on for the Yanks concluded with a 452-foot, 114 mph moon shot grand slam from the designated hitter, flipping the script in a most painful fashion for the Red Sox.
After Houck struck out both Rougned Odor and Gio Urshela to begin the eighth, the pesky Brett Gardner did what he does again - working a walk. Another free pass to Aaron Judge paved the way for Alex Cora to call on Hernandez to face the lefty-hitting Anthony Rizzo, who would ultimately load the bases thanks to a hit-by-pitch.
The errant toss by Hernandez immediately got Cora to spring out of the dugout for what appeared to be a motivational talking to directed at his young lefty. It didn’t take, with Stanton absolutely unleashing on the first pitch he saw for the game-changer.
“I think we’ve had a few of these this season," Cora said. "We should be fine.”