NEW YORK (AP) — Brett Gardner hit a grand slam off Ryan Brasier in the seventh inning for his 100th career home run, and the New York Yankees rallied to beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3 Wednesday night for a two-game sweep of the reeling World Series champions.
J.D. Martinez hit a first-inning home run off Yankees starter J.A. Happ, just like he did in the AL Division Series opener last October, and Christian Vázquez hit a two-run homer in the second for a 3-0 lead. The Yankees were on the verge of failing to win any of their first four home series for the first time since 1913, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Clint Frazier started the comeback with an RBI double in the fourth against former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi, and New York loaded the bases in the seventh against Brandon Workman on Frazier’s single and walks to Mike Tauchman and Austin Romine.
Brasier relieved and got ahead 0-2, then left a fastball up that Gardner drove 364 feet over the right-field scoreboard.
Tommy Kahnle (1-0) got two outs for the win, Adam Ottavino retired Eduardo Núñez on a bases-loaded flyout that ended the eighth and Aroldis Chapman got three straight outs for his third save as the Yankees improved to 8-9, including 5-6 at home.
Only once before had the Yankees lost or split their first four home series. They started 1913 with 17 home losses and a tie in their first season at the Polo Grounds, winning the opener of their seventh home series on June 7 against the Chicago White Sox.
Boston dropped to 6-13, the worst start for a World Series champion since the 1998 Florida Marlins opened 5-14. The Red Sox did not lose their 13th game last year until May 14 and already face daunting math: No team has lost 12 or more of its first 18 games and reached the playoffs since the 2002 Anaheim Angels, who won the World Series. They’re eight games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia left in the second inning because of left knee discomfort, a sign that a return trip to the injured list is possible. Pedroia played the field for the first time since Saturday, and the Red Sox head to Tampa Bay for a series on artificial turf.
Eovaldi and Happ both remained winless. Eovaldi allowed an unearned run and three hits in six innings, while Happ gave up three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Happ has allowed six home runs in 18 2/3 innings over four starts.
Boston 1B Steve Pearce saved two runs, diving for a backhand snag of Gio Urshela’s two-out chopper with runners on second and third in the fourth, then throwing to Eovadli covering first for the out.
Red Sox: OF Andrew Benintendi missed his third straight game after fouling a pitch off his right foot Sunday. Manager Alex Cora said he expects him to start Friday.
Yankees: C Gary Sánchez (strained left calf) hopes to play in Sunday’s homestand finale against Kansas City, the first day he is eligible to be activated from the IL. … OF Giancarlo Stanton, who hasn’t played since March 31 because of a strained left biceps, started hitting off a machine Tuesday. … RHP Luis Severino says he hurt his lat muscle warming up before his first scheduled spring training start March 5, though New York’s medical staff did not diagnose the injury until April. He is not expected to resume throwing until about May 21.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodríguez (1-2) starts Friday at Tampa Bay, beginning a stretch of 20 games in 20 days for Boston.
Yankees: RHP Domingo Germán (3-0) is scheduled to start Thursday’s series opener against Kansas City and RHP Homer Bailey (1-1).