Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Yankees 4, Red Sox 1: 16 thoughts on 16 innings

Rob Bradford
July 15, 2017 - 11:29 pm

For much of the five hours and 50 minutes, Fenway Park was thick with drama. But by the end, when the final out was caught and the Yankees walked off with a 4-1, 16-inning win, the excitement had morphed into one big sad trombone for the home side thanks to New York's three-run final frame.

The ultimate payoff for those who stayed for the entire Red Sox' extra-inning loss was that they could claim to have lasted for the fourth-longest game ever played at Fenway Park since 1913. But even for those who might have left early got a heavy dose of intrigue in a game that brought the Yankees back to 3 1/2 games back of the first-place Sox.

In case you missed the marathon (or perhaps some chunks of it) here are 16 items that should be of some interest heading to the teams' (gulp) doubleheader Sunday:

1. Start with Chris Sale. This was the punch in the gut for the Red Sox, to get such an outstanding performance from their ace and have nothing to show for it. In this case, Sale tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings, striking out 13. He now has the best ERA (1.17) against the Yankees of any pitcher in big league history since the stat first started being kept.

2.  The way Sale punctuated his outing was notable, with the lefty striking out Gary Sanchez on his 118th, and final. The pitch count was his high for the season. And when it was all said and done, the lefty has now notched 25 starts with 12 or more strikeouts since becoming a starting pitcher in 2012. The closest to Sale over that span is Clayton Kershaw, who clocks in at 16.

3.  As much fun as the Fenway fans are having watching Sale, the feeling is evidently very mutual.  "I’ll say this: The last two games here have been probably the funnest two games I’ve ever been a part of," the pitcher said. "The energy in the ballpark, the fans have really come alive. As players we appreciate that. We feel that we hear them. So yeah, it’s hard not to get hyped up when you’re playing a division rival in a packed house going crazy."

4. Red Sox manager John Farrell's decision to replace Sale with Craig Kimbrel was met with a healthy amount of boos from the Fenway crowd. It was the first time since June 6 Kimbrel had pitched in the eighth, with the closer coming on to face Aaron Judge. A 10-pitch at-bat ended up with an inning-ending fly out to right field, perserving a one-run lead for the hosts.

5. The first move with Kimbrel worked out. The next one didn't. For the first time in 31 save opportunities at Fenway Park, the closer failed to come through, giving up a leadoff homer in the ninth to Matt Holliday to take the win away from Sale.

"He hit a fastball down the middle," Kimbrel said. "That’s part of the life of a reliever. Sometimes one pitch can be the outcome of the entire game. It seemed like that was kind of it today. ... The first two pitches I threw were breaking balls, so I can imagine he was sitting on a fastball there. It’s not too often that I throw three breaking balls in a row to somebody. I feel like if I executed it it may have been a foul ball or swing and miss, but he put a good swing on it and hit it long ways… that’s usually what happens when I give them up."

6.  Kimbrel ended up throwing 26 pitches while recording four outs.

"I thought today was a unique set of circumstances," Farrell explained. "I talked to Craig when we were in Tampa going into the All-Star break that Sunday was a possibility with the additional days of rest and then with multiple days off, talked to him during the game and he was fully prepared, ready to go."

7. The Red Sox went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The only success came in the third inning when Mitch Moreland plated the Sox's only run with a sacrifice fly against Yankees starter Luis Severino.

8. With runners on first and second and nobody out in the 10th inning, Farrell chose to pinch-hit for Sandy Leon with Chris Young. The Yankees countered by taking out lefty reliever Carson Shreve and putting in righty Adam Warren. The strategy back-fired for the Red Sox, with Young proceeding to strikeout, leading to back-to-back fly outs from Tzu-Wei Lin and Mookie Betts.

9. A bizarre play occcurred in the 11th inning, when Holliday was forced out at second on a grounder from Jacoby Ellsbury. But for some reason Holliday raced back toward first, where he got in front of Moreland just before the throw back from shortstop Xander Bogaerts. While the play iniitially clearly looked like interference, the umpires -- after a 4-minute, 58-second review -- ruled that Ellsbury would still be awarded first base. It resulted in the Red Sox protesting the game.

"My view was that it was interference, regardless of whether it was intentional or not. That’s why I protested the game," Farrell said. "But there was, after repeated conversations with New York, it was brought back to me that they weren’t going to change the play. And the play stood with no explanation."

10. Not having Joe Kelly, who went on the 10-day disabled list just before the game with a hamstring strain, didn't help matters.

"He was feeling some left hamstring symptoms, tightness, throughout the break, he was trying to get loose last night, he felt it, and then when he threw his flatground today it grabbed him pretty good," the manager said. "He shut that down, he was checked in the training room, was able to reproduce the symptoms just by going through his delivery at a very controlled effort, so didn't want to take any chances and we made the move."

11. The Red Sox bullpen suffered a second injury when Blaine Boyer was forced from the game to begin the 13th inning with right elbow tightness.

12. For the most part, the Sox' relievers did their part. After Kimbrel, Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Boyer and Brandon Workman each rattled off scoreless innings.

13. Doug Fister made his first relief outing since 2015, coming on for Fernando Abad, who put two runners on while recording just one out in the 14th inning. Fister would ultimately take the loss, falling apart in the 16th. The righty, who was scheduled to start against the Blue Jays Tuesday, gave up four straight hits to start what would be the decisive 16th frame.

14. The Yankees relievers were outstanding, pitching nine scoreless innings for the first time since 2013.

15. Lin, who went 1-for-5 with a walk, has now reached base safely in 11 of his 12 starts.

16. In other news, Rafael Devers was evidently really, really good in his Triple-A debut. The third baseman went 4-for-4 with a home run and a standout defensive play.

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