NEW YORK (AP) — First, it was third-string catcher Kyle Higashioka getting the silent treatment in the dugout after a home run. Then, the same for Aaron Hicks when he hit homer No. 3.
On a 91-degree night with the pennant race heating up, the New York Yankees enjoyed some more yucks against their biggest rival.
Hicks launched three home runs and the Yankees pummeled David Price again, connecting five times in the first four innings Sunday on the way to an 11-1 rout of the Boston Red Sox.
“It feels awesome,” Hicks said. “I blacked out after the third one. Kind of didn’t know what to do. But I mean, it’s exciting.”
Luis Severino became the first 13-game winner in the majors, cruising through 6 2/3 shutout innings of two-hit ball after the Bronx Bombers quickly built him a big cushion. With the teams trading blowouts all weekend, the Yankees (54-27) took two of three from Boston to regain baseball’s best record and first place in the AL East.
“It’s going to be a dogfight. We have a good team, they have a good team,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “A weird series, honestly. It was very weird. Weird games.”
Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres also homered for New York, which leads the 19-game season series 5-4. The next time the teams meet is early August at Fenway Park.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a fun few months,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The first Yankees leadoff batter to hit three home runs in a game, Hicks connected twice from the right side of the plate and once from the left. He smacked a two-run shot to right field in the second inning and a solo drive to center in the fourth that chased Price (9-6) and made it 8-0.
Hicks pulled his 14th of the season into the right-field stands in the eighth off Hector Velazquez. It was the first three-homer game by a Yankees player since Alex Rodriguez, part of the ESPN broadcast crew Sunday, accomplished the feat at Minnesota in July 2015.
The only other Yankees hitter to go deep three times at the current Yankee Stadium was Curtis Granderson in April 2012 against the Twins.
Judge had three hits and scored three times. Torres socked a three-run shot that gave New York a 4-0 lead in the first, and the Yankees finished with a season-high six homers to boost their major league-leading total to 137, setting a franchise record for before the All-Star break.
Exactly halfway through its season, New York is on pace to surpass the 1997 Seattle Mariners’ mark of 264 homers.
“That’s probably as good a night as we’ve had all year,” Boone said. “Obviously, a big series to grab it on Sunday here. That’s a peak at what we can do.”
Higashioka homered into the second deck in left field off Price for his first major league hit after an 0-for-22 start to his career. Higashioka, wearing No. 66 in pinstripes, received the silent treatment when he returned to the bench before happy teammates finally engulfed him.
“The feeling is indescribable,” Higashioka said at his locker, the team’s championship belt for the night draped over his chair. “I laughed. I didn’t expect that, but I mean, obviously it was amazing. It was just a great feeling.”
Price was rocked for eight earned runs — matching a career high — and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings, his latest flop against the Yankees. He had never given up more than three homers in a game.
Severino (13-2) lowered his AL-leading ERA to 1.98 and improved to 8-0 at home this season. He walked off to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 46,795 and tipped his cap , right on track to become the first Yankees pitcher to start the All-Star Game since Roger Clemens in 2001.
“It means a lot,” Severino said. “Facing the Red Sox is one of the best things in baseball.”
Boston (56-29) was outhit 16-4 and didn’t score until the ninth.
The Price is wrong
Making his 40th career appearance (39th start) vs. the Yankees, Price fell to 2-6 with an 8.43 ERA in nine starts against them since signing a $217 million contract with Boston before the 2016 season. He has faced New York twice this year, allowing 12 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, and is 0-5 with a 10.44 ERA in his last five starts at Yankee Stadium.
“Honestly, I felt fine. They put some good swings on what I felt like were pretty good pitches,” said Price, who entered 7-1 with a 2.72 ERA in nine starts since being diagnosed with a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome that caused him to miss a scheduled turn at New York in May. “I’ve faced the Yankees many times. It’s time for me to kind of go back to that drawing board.”
Red Sox: Right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg is expected back this week after rehabbing from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last June.
Yankees: Higashioka started at catcher for Austin Romine, who exited Saturday’s game with tightness in his left hamstring. A precautionary MRI was negative, and Romine was available off the bench. He could return to the lineup Monday night against Atlanta. Romine has been filling in for All-Star backstop Gary Sanchez (groin), who might be able to come off the disabled list right after the All-Star break July 20-22 against the Mets. … GM Brian Cashman said if everything goes well, RHP Masahiro Tanaka (two strained hamstrings) will make a minor league rehab start this week and rejoin the Yankees early next week in Baltimore — perhaps in time to pitch in a July 9 doubleheader.
Red Sox: Three interleague games at Washington, where RHP Rick Porcello (9-3, 3.60 ERA) faces former Detroit teammate Max Scherzer (10-4, 2.04) in a matchup of the 2016 Cy Young Award winners Monday night. With no DH in the National League park, Cora said slugger J.D. Martinez will probably start two games in the outfield. Same for CF Jackie Bradley Jr. and LF Andrew Benintendi as they rotate.
Yankees: Rookie RHP Jonathan Loaisiga (2-0, 1.93 ERA) makes his fourth major league start against RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-2, 2.68) and the Braves, surprise leaders in the NL East.