Red Sox

Judge, Gardner lift Yankees over Red Sox, 9-6

judge.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

Judge, Gardner lift Yankees over Red Sox, 9-6

NEW YORK -- When it comes to Brett Gardner, first-year Yankees manager Aaron Boone believes in metrics and makeup.

Even as Gardner's batting average dipped under .200, Boone was optimistic. For starters, Gardner's exit velocities and other advanced stats indicated a breakout was coming. Plus, the speedy leadoff man was still getting on base.

It wasn't just the numbers, though.

"He's just a broad-shouldered, tough player," Boone said. "He just has a way of competing in the biggest spots."

Gardner capped a slump-busting performance with a go-ahead, two-run triple off Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning, Aaron Judge followed with a homer and New York rallied to beat the Boston Red Sox 9-6 Wednesday night for its 17th victory in 18 games.

Kimbrel entered with two on and one out to face Gardner seeking the first five-out save of his career. Gardner drilled a full-count pitch into left-center, well over the head of center fielder Mookie Betts, who was playing shallow. Neil Walkerscored easily from third and rookie Gleyber Torres raced from first and slid past a lunging tag attempted by catcher Christian Vazquez.

"There's just a toughness that he plays the game with," Boone said of Gardner. "Tonight, I was happy to see him break through."

Judge followed with a line drive to center measured at 117 mph off the bat, his ninth homer of the season. He had three hits, three RBIs and a diving catch in right field as New York won its eighth straight overall and 11th in a row at home.

New York (26-10) broke a tie with Boston for first place in the AL East and has sole possession of the best record in the majors for the first time since July 27, 2012. The Yankees are on a 35-8 tear in the Bronx since Sept. 2, including the postseason, and at 16-5 have the best home record in the majors this year.

Fans at a sold-out Yankee Stadium went wild in the eighth. Judge compared it to the postseason atmosphere last October, and the party spilled over onto River Avenue so loudly it could still be heard back inside the stadium 15 minutes after the game.

"It's May, and it was bedlam," Boone said. "It was fun to be a part of that."

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his ninth save. J.D. Martinez got a hit off Chapman and ran into the closer trying to round first base. Martinez argued for interference, but the umpires held him at first on a grounder hit inside the bag. Chapman struck out Mitch Moreland to end it.

The 34-year-old Gardner doubled and scored twice earlier in the game after hitting .147 without an extra-base hit over his previous 19 games. Boone predicted before the game that a breakout was imminent, citing internal metrics and an appreciation for Gardner's steady approach.

"The longer you're around and the older you get, the more you realize that you can't get too excited about maybe one or two good games and you can't get too down about one or two bad weeks," Gardner said. "You just have to keep working."

The Yankees had walk-off wins in three of their previous five home games. This rally came an inning earlier.

Kimbrel replaced Matt Barnes (0-1) after a double by Walker and a one-out walk to Torres. It was the second blown save in four appearances for Kimbrel, who recently became the fastest reliever to 300 career saves.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the team had planned to be aggressive with Kimbrel because he hadn't pitched since Saturday.

"Today was the day we were like, `You know what? He's rested enough and we know they've been coming back against a lot of teams,' " Cora said.

Hanley Ramirez put Boston ahead 6-5 with a two-run homer in the seventh. Ramirez turned on a hanging slider from reliever Chad Green and crushed it deep into the second deck in left field for his fourth homer.

Giancarlo Stanton drove in two with a go-ahead double off Rick Porcello in the third inning a day after hitting a pair of solo homers in a 3-2 Yankees victory. It was the first time Stanton had RBIs in consecutive games this season, and he improved to 10 for 19 with seven RBIs against Boston during his first season in pinstripes.

Moreland and Andrew Benintendi homered as Boston chased Masahiro Tanaka after 5 1/3 innings. Tanaka allowed four runs.

Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder (1-1) cleaned up a mess left by Chasen Shreve in the eighth, getting Benintendi to ground out with the bases loaded.

Porcello allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings - his first time giving up three or more runs this season.

TUNED IN

Tuesday's 3-2 win by the Yankees in the series opener was the highest-rated game on the YES Network since Derek Jeter's home finale in 2014, drawing more than 600,000 total viewers. It was the first time Boston and New York met with the majors' two best records since 2002, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: LHP David Price was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome after twice experiencing numbness in his pitching hand this season. Cora called it "good news compared to anything else." Price will throw at Yankee Stadium on Thursday before being re-evaluated.

Yankees: 1B Greg Bird is set to begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Tampa as he works back from ankle surgery on March 27. He had been playing in extended spring training.

UP NEXT

Left-handers CC Sabathia and Eduardo Rodriguez face each other in the series finale. The 37-year-old Sabathia has allowed just one earned run in four starts since returning to the Yankees from a brief DL stint. Rodriguez struck out 10 last time out against Texas, but he's also allowed five earned runs in each of his past two outings.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

MLB Rumors: Yankees offer Gerrit Cole a record contract

gerrit_cole_120819.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

MLB Rumors: Yankees offer Gerrit Cole a record contract

The Boston Red Sox may be looking to cut their payroll this offseason. But that doesn't mean that their rivals will be too.

In fact, some may spend big. And that includes the New York Yankees.

The Yankees have been reportedly interested in free-agent pitcher Gerrit Cole. The former Houston Astro is expected to get a lot of money on the open market, and according to Bob Klapisch of the New York Times, the Yankees have made a record-setting offer for his services.

This would be a big signing for the Yankees, as they could use another top-tier pitcher for their starting rotation. And Cole would certainly fill that need.

Cole, 29, had one of the best seasons of his career for the Astros, logging a 20-5 record and posting a 2.50 ERA. He also struck out a league-best 326 batters and helped the Astros win the American League pennant.

While the Yankees offer is on the table, they are still competing with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels to earn his services, as Klapisch noted. We'll see if this offer is enough or if any of the teams involved in the sweepstakes up the ante.

And while the Yankees chase after Cole, the Red Sox are weighing some moves of their own. According to the latest rumors, they are expressing interest in a reunion with Rick Porcello.

Where Cole ranks among the MLB's top 10 free agent starting pitchers>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

MLB Rumors: Red Sox interested in a reunion with Rick Porcello

MLB Rumors: Red Sox interested in a reunion with Rick Porcello

The Boston Red Sox may be trying to cut some payroll this offseason, but that isn't going to stop them from targeting some free agents. And that may include one of their own.

According to Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald, the Red Sox are having talks with Rick Porcello about a potential reunion. While the Red Sox may be interested in Porcello, Mastrodonato wrote that "it's unclear how aggressive the Red Sox will be in their pursuit."

He also noted that a short-term, incentive-based contract may make sense for both sides.

Porcello, soon to be 31, has spent the past five seasons with the Red Sox after being acquired in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson, and Gabe Speier. He won the Cy Young Award in his second year with the team, 2016, but he has had issues in the seasons since that campaign.

In 2019, Porcello endured his worst campaign as a pro, logging a career-worst 5.52 ERA and 7.4 K/9, his worst mark since joining the Red Sox. Still, he posted a 14-12 record and still profiles as a solid back-end starter because of his ability to eat innings.

We'll soon see if the Red Sox end up being involved in the Porcello sweepstakes. If they are involved, they will have competition and may find themselves facing off with the likes of the New York Mets, who reportedly have an interest in Porcello.

Where Porcello ranks among the MLB's top 10 free agent starting pitchers>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.