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Kenley Jansen closes four-out save as Red Sox beat Yankees in 8-4 thriller

Mac Cerullo, Boston Herald on

Published in Baseball

BOSTON — Kenley Jansen was brought to Boston for nights like this.

With the Boston Red Sox clinging to a two-run lead, men at the corners and the top of the New York Yankees order due up, manager Alex Cora summoned his closer for a four-out save. As he has so often throughout his 15-year career, the veteran came through, escaping the eighth inning jam and shutting down the heart of the Yankees order to close out a thrilling 8-4 Red Sox win.

The Red Sox now have a chance to clinch their second straight series victory against one of baseball’s elite clubs on Sunday night.

Jansen’s save capped off one of the best wins of the season for Boston, who jumped all over Yankees starter Carlos Rodon in the early innings and whose pitching staff held the line the rest of the way.

Rodon, whose first season in New York last year was an unmitigated disaster, has looked much more like the All-Star the Yankees thought they were signing recently. Coming into Saturday night the left-hander ranked among the AL’s best with a 2.93 ERA, and he’d won seven consecutive starts dating back to early May.

The Red Sox made sure he wouldn’t get to eight.

Boston came out swinging in the bottom of the first. Jarren Duran led off the inning with a double, Tyler O’Neill drove him in with an RBI double of his own, and after Rafael Devers walked Connor Wong scored O’Neill with an RBI single. Jamie Westbrook capped off the rally with an RBI double to make it 3-0.

New York quickly answered with two runs off Cooper Criswell in the top of the second, with DJ LeMahieu coming through with a two-run, two-out single, but the Red Sox got right back on the attack in the bottom of the frame. Ceddanne Rafaela led off with a single, Rob Refsnyder reached on a fielder’s choice and O’Neill singled, setting the stage for Devers to rip a two-run double to the left field gap.

Rodon settled down from there, limiting Boston to one walk over his last three innings of work, but the Red Sox pitching staff made sure the lead held.

 

Criswell only went four innings, but he limited the Yankees to two runs on three hits, two walks and six strikeouts. Rookie Justin Slaten followed with three strong innings of his own, including a white-knuckle fifth inning in which he loaded the bases with one out before striking out Giancarlo Stanton to escape unscathed.

Slaten followed with a scoreless sixth and nearly made it through the seventh too, but after topping 40 pitches he allowed a solo home run to Juan Soto and a single to Aaron Judge, prompting Cora to bring in the lefty Brennan Bernardino, who forced a groundout from Alex Verdugo to end the inning.

The Red Sox picked up some insurance in the seventh after Masataka Yoshida roped a ground rule double into the gap and Enmanuel Valdez drove him in with an RBI single. Yoshida narrowly beat Judge’s throw home, but was ruled safe and the call stood upon review.

That proved crucial after Greg Weissert, pitching against his former team for the first time since being acquired in the Verdugo trade this past winter, got himself in trouble after walking a pair and allowing a single to load the bases with one out. He drew a fielder’s choice from LeMahieu for the second out, which scored Rizzo, but after that Cora brought out the big guns, summoning Jansen for the four-out save.

Jansen drew an Anthony Volpe flyout to end the threat, and perhaps realizing Soto, Judge and Verdugo would all bat in the ninth, the Red Sox took no chances and kept applying pressure. Rafaela led off with a double, scored on an RBI single by Duran, and then Duran came around to score after Yankees catcher Austin Wells botched a pickoff attempt at third base, allowing him to score and making it 8-4.

That was more than enough for Jansen to work with, and now the Red Sox will look to clinch the series Sunday.

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