'What We Learned': Red Sox' 5-3 win over the Yankees
By Sean McAdam
Three things we learned from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over the New York Yankees . . .
1) Andrew Benintendi is using the whole field, and that's a good sign
The rookie outfielder had his second straight three-hit game. But more than that, he had a single to left, a double (eventually, after it seemed he might have his first homer) to center, and another single pulled to the right side of the infield.
"It definitely doesn't hurt to use the whole field,'' said Benintendi. "I think if I started getting, say, pull-happy, that's when I start to struggle so hitting the ball is what I'm trying to do.''
Nor did Benintendi seem put off by trying to hit Luis Severino's fastball, which topped out at 98 mph. As Benintendi jokingly acknowledge, you don't often see that kind of velocity in the Eastern League.
But it didn't overwhelm him, which again demonstrated his maturity.
"I feel like it's all about adjustments,'' he shrugged. "Some guys throw harder than others, so you just start (your swing) earlier and try to keep it simple.''
2) Craig Kimbrel turned a relatively easy save into an adventure, and that's a concern
Kimbrel's mechanics were clearly off, as John Farrell noted from the dugout. That resulted in four walks in the span of six hitters and forced Farrell to lift Kimbrel in favor of Matt Barnes for the final out.
Kimbrel admitted that he's still experiencing some knee soreness following his surgery four weeks and a day ago.
"I wouldn't say it affected my performance,'' said Kimbrel said of the knee, "but it's something I'm going to battle with until it's all gone. Four weeks after surgery, I'm good enough to pitch, good enough to play, but it's not going to affect it each and every night.''
At times, Kimbrel can be overpowering -- as he was last Thursday in Seattle, retiring all four hitters he faced, the last three by strikeout. But it probably didn't help matters that that represented his last outing, and he was pitching with four days of rest.
Still, Kimbrel's propensity for walks -- his 4.1 walks per nine innings coming into the game represents his highest rate since his rookie season -- is troubling. Baserunners -- whether they reach via hit or walk -- are trouble for closers.
3) Fortunately for Kimbrel, Matt Barnes is undeterred by inherited baserunners
After Kimbrel walked his fourth hitter of the ninth, he was lifted for Barnes, who walked into a bases-loaded, two-out, two-run lead.
Barnes got Mark Teixeira looking at a called strike three, closing the game and leaving all three Yankee baserunners where they were. This season, Barnes has stranded stranded 35 runners and allowed just eight to score.
Prior to last night, that represented a a ratio of just 18.7 percent inherited runners scoring, the sixth lowest among American League relievers.
"I think that's the fourth time that I've come with the bases loaded this year,'' Barnes said. "It's (all about) sticking to a game plan and executing pitches. You can't get caught up in what's going on around you. You have to focus on each pitch individually. I was able to execute some pitches tonight and fortunately it worked out.’’