A second three-game sweep of the Yankees this month has the Red Sox back in first place in the AL East.
Boston manager Alex Cora called his team’s weekend trouncing of the Yanks “all around probably the best series we’ve played the whole season,” featuring three home runs against Gerrit Cole in Sunday’s 9-2 win at Fenway.
What’s worse was Cora’s complimentary — almost patronizing — tone when asked about the difference between this sweep of the reeling Yanks and the one the Red Sox executed in The Bronx in early June.
“I think that’s a good baseball team. You can see the quality of the at-bats are a lot better now than they were a few weeks ago. They’re getting there,” Cora said via Zoom after the Sox improved to 47-31, widening their lead over their fourth-place rivals to 6 ½ games. “When Gary [Sanchez] is swinging the bat the way he is, DJ [LeMahieu] is getting on base, they become very dangerous.
“Like even today, we never felt comfortable because you know they’re going to put quality at-bats. … Overall, for us, obviously it’s nice. But we’ll take six [wins] for right now.”
The Red Sox, who finished 24-36 and in last place in the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, continue to pound the ball with a high-powered lineup featuring sluggers Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.
After Kiké Hernandez belted Cole’s first pitch of the game for a leadoff homer, Devers clubbed a 101 mph fastball from the Yankees ace into the right-field bleachers for a three-run shot and a 4-0 lead after one inning.
“Obviously as tough a pitcher as [Cole] is, he’s a really good pitcher and someone that you can’t overlook. But he has his moments, just like all of us, ups and downs, and today we were able to get him,” Devers, who is second in MLB with 64 RBIs, said through an interpreter. “We came into this series and knew we had to handle our business, especially at home.
“We were out there being aggressive, trying to play good defense, doing what we have to do on the base paths. Overall, it was a really great series for the entire team.”
And another clunker for the Yanks, who fell to 11-12 in June. Martinez also homered against Cole as the Sox took a 6-0 lead in the third.
Aaron Judge belted a homer in the sixth for the Yanks’ only two runs off Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who missed the entire 2020 season after a positive COVID-19 test and a resultant case of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart).
“It’s fun whenever we win games, it doesn’t matter who we’re facing,” Rodriguez said. “If we want to go to the playoffs and go to the World Series we know it’s not just ‘win three games against the Yankees.’
“It’s ‘win against every team in the league.’ ”
The Yanks got the tying run to the plate after loading the bases in the seventh, but former Yankees farmhand Garrett Whitlock struck out LeMahieu and retired Judge on a pop-up to escape the jam. Whitlock, selected by Boston out of the Yanks’ minor league system in the offseason Rule 5 draft, sports a 1.42 ERA through 22 appearances this season, including 5 ¹/₃ -scoreless innings against his former organization.
“Anytime we get a win against anybody it’s great, but then obviously with the history between the Red Sox and the Yankees, you love to beat the Yankees any chance you get,” Whitlock said. “To take six off them so far this year, hopefully we take a lot more than just six.”