Yankees inch closer to Red Sox with nail-biting win to start doubleheader

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On the outside of the postseason picture for most of the season, the Yankees finally find themselves in the midst of a playoff race as the regular season approaches its final month.

Their ascent in the standings continued Tuesday in the first game of a split doubleheader against the Red Sox, as the Yankees beat their rivals, 5-3, in seven innings.

It was the Yankees fourth straight win and brought them to within one game of Boston and Oakland for the second wild-card spot in the AL.

And once again, it didn’t come easily. The Red Sox loaded the bases with no one out in the seventh before Jonathan Loaisiga finished it.

Kyle Schwarber led off the seventh with a grounder that Tyler Wade, shifted from third base, couldn’t handle for an infield single. Christian Vazquez and Alex Verdugo both singled to right to load the bases for pinch-hitter Travis Shaw, who just rejoined the Red Sox and hit for Bobby Dalbec. 

New York Yankees first baseman Luke Voit #59 after hitting a two-run go-ahead single during the fifth inning.
Robert Sabo

Shaw lined out to left on a 3-2 pitch.

Loaisiga fell behind Kike Hernandez 3-0, but came back to strike him out swinging and then fanned Hunter Renfroe to end it. Loaisiga tossed two shutout innings for the save. 

Just like they have for much of the second half, the Yankees got contributions from everyone — including Andrew Velazquez, who made a pair of defensive gems at shortstop and added a two-run single, and Albert Abreu, who got the final out of the fifth inning.

Luke Voit delivered the biggest hit, a go-ahead, two-run single with the Yankees trailing by a run in the bottom of the fifth. Giancarlo Stanton added a pinch-hit RBI single later in the inning, as the Yankees took advantage of some shoddy work from Boston’s bullpen. 

It was just the Yankees’ fourth victory over their rivals in 14 games this season as they headed into Tuesday’s nightcap, looking to tie Boston for the final playoff spot.

Velazquez helped Jordan Montgomery get out of the top of the first unscathed.

Rafael Devers hit a ball to the right side of the infield, where it was fielded by Rougned Odor, shifted from third base. Devers beat it out for a single and Hunter Renfroe tried to get to third, which had been left uncovered, but Voit threw to a running Velazquez, who chased down Renfroe for the third out.

The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the second. Voit was hit by a pitch and Odor followed with a hit. Gary Sanchez — in his first game back from the COVID IL — lined out to third and Wade loaded the bases with a single to right.

Yankees shortstop Andrew Velazquez
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Velazquez then drilled a liner to center to score Voit and Odor for a two-run single.

In the third, Montgomery allowed a one-out single to Bobby Dalbec and then walked Kike Hernandez.

Both runners advanced on a slow roller fielded by Montgomery before Xander Bogaerts singled to left on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game. Both runners scored and Bogaerts was thrown out off first base to end the inning, when Sanchez opted to not try to make a lunging tag attempt on Hernandez and instead threw to first.

A pair of singles gave the Yankees runners on first and second with two out in the fourth for Velazquez, who flied out to center.

The Red Sox took the lead an inning later, when Christian Vazquez led off the fifth with a long homer to left on a 3-2 pitch off Montgomery.

After a two-out walk to Hernandez, Montgomery was replaced by Abreu, who got Renfroe to fly to right.

Former Yankee prospect Garrett Whitlook took over for Tanner Houck to start the bottom of the fifth and walked Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge with one out and was replaced by lefty Josh Taylor to face Joey Gallo.

Gallo worked a walk to load the bases for Voit, who flared a single to center that landed just beyond an outstretched Hernandez to score Gardner and Judge and put the Yankees back in the lead.

Stanton, pinch-hitting for Odor, laced a single to center to make it 5-3, as Gallo scored.

A walk by Wade loaded the bases and Velazquez struck out to end the inning.

The Yankees loaded the bases again in the sixth for Jonathan Davis, who replaced Stanton as a pinch-runner in the fifth. Davis whiffed to keep it a two-run game.

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