Riding high off a comeback victory to pull even for the top American League wild card, the New York Yankees seek sole possession on Sunday night when they bid for a three-game sweep of the host Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees trailed 2-1 in the eighth inning of Saturday’s contest before Giancarlo Stanton crushed a grand slam over the Green Monster in an eventual 5-3 win. With its fifth straight victory, New York (88-67) matched Boston (88-67) in the wild-card standings, where the first team will host the second in a one-game playoff for the chance to move on to the AL Division Series.
“We’re now in a better situation than we were yesterday and the day before,” said Stanton, who has homered twice with eight RBIs through the first two games of the crucial series. “So, it’s our job to get out of this city in an even better situation tomorrow.”
The importance of holding the top seed is further magnified by the proximity of the other clubs in the wild-card hunt. The Toronto Blue Jays are two games back after a victory Saturday night, while the Seattle Mariners had a six-game winning streak snapped to fall three games off the pace.
The Yankees will visit the Blue Jays after Sunday’s series finale before ending their season hosting the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.
The Red Sox will embark on a six-game road trip against cellar dwellers in the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals.
“I think we’ve had a few of these this season,” Boston skipper Alex Cora said in the aftermath of Saturday’s crushing defeat. “We should be fine.”
The Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (11-8, 4.97 ERA) to the mound looking to salvage a win in their regular-season home finale. Southpaw Jordan Montgomery (6-6, 3.55) gets the nod for the Yankees.
Prior to the start of the weekend series, Boston had won seven straight and appeared primed to distance itself from the rest of the pack in the standings. The club’s bullpen escaped jams in the sixth and seventh innings Saturday before New York finally broke through.
“You come tomorrow and you play good baseball and see where it takes us,” Cora said. “After that, we rest Monday and be ready for the road trip.”
Stanton’s slam was the ninth of his career and second this season.
“Great feeling. A lot of emotions going on. Just glad I was able to do it,” he said.
Montgomery earned the win over the Texas Rangers in his last start, his second straight effort allowing just one run over 5 2/3 innings. The southpaw is 0-2 with a 3.63 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox this season and 1-2 with a 3.91 ERA in 10 starts for his career.
Rodriguez will look to pitch deeper after holding the New York Mets to two runs in 4 1/3 innings in his most recent performance. He has pitched past the fifth inning just three times in his last six starts.
Rodriguez is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts versus the Yankees this year. He is 8-6 with a 3.73 ERA in 22 games (20 starts) lifetime against New York.
–Field Level Media