Red Sox

6 takeaways as Red Sox beat Yankees behind Michael Wacha’s impressive return

Wacha threw seven innings and Rafael Devers homered to lead the Red Sox to a 3-0 win.

Red Sox Yankees
Red Sox starting pitcher Michael Wacha pitches at the top of the first inning. Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

The Red Sox rode a pristine outing by Michael Wacha to a 3-0 victory over the Yankees on Sunday to clinch the three-game series at Fenway.

Here’s what happened.

The Big Picture

After Michael Wacha threw a scoreless top of the first frame, Tommy Pham continued his solid stretch since joining the Red Sox with a leadoff double to left center. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts grounded out to move Pham the rest of the way around the bases and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

That lead held for the rest of Wacha’s outing. Wacha pitched four perfect innings before a single by Miguel Andújar broke things up. But Andújar, Andrew Benintendi, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa (on a harmless fifth-inning walk) were the only Yankees baserunners of the night against Wacha.


Meanwhile, Devers gave him some insurance in the bottom of the sixth — obliterating a two-run homer to right after Pham singled to lead off the frame.

The Red Sox cruised the rest of the way behind solid relief innings by Ryan Brasier and Garrett Whitlock, claiming their third win in four games.

Star of the Game

Michael Wacha – 7.0 IP, two hits, nine strikeouts, zero walks

Wacha returned after nearly two months on the injured list due to right shoulder inflammation and threw perhaps the best outing of the season for the Red Sox, reminding anyone with a little optimism remaining about this team that there are still several difference-makers set to return to the lineup.

What It Means

The Blue Jays lost to the Guardians. The Orioles lost to the Rays. All four teams are ahead of the Red Sox in the wild card standings, so realistically, the Red Sox just needed a win. Thanks to Wacha (and Devers and Pham), they got one.


1. Devers annihilated his sixth-inning homer — a 433-foot bomb at 110 mph that would have left any MLB stadium.

Devers knew it immediately too, taking several steps back away from home plate to watch it fly before flipping his bat so high that Xander Bogaerts took a couple of steps back in the on-deck circle to make sure he wasn’t hit by the projectile.


2. Per Baseball Savant, Wacha allowed just two hard-hit balls — one each to Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres. He coaxed 18 whiffs over seven innings, 10 of which were courtesy of his changeup — a number made more impressive by the fact that Wacha threw just 21 changeups.

Crucially, Wacha also fanned Aaron Judge twice as the Red Sox held the Yankees’ MVP candidate to 0-for-4 at the plate with three strikeouts. Wacha tricked Judge on his second strikeout, going high and inside late in the count with a fastball against the best high-and-inside hitter in baseball.

3. Tommy Pham finished Sunday with three hits in four plate appearances and scored a pair of runs. ESPN’s Marly Rivera reported that Pham — who suffers from a rare eye condition called keratoconus and has to wear special contacts — tried out a new contact for his left eye that helped him identify pitches in the corner of the strike zone. Sure enough, all three of his hits were on the edges of the strike zone, per Baseball Savant.

Pham might need contact solution so he can keep these contacts in rotation.

4. Jarren Duran remained hitless against the Yankees this season, but he was a little unlucky this time. In the eighth inning, he hit a 391-foot fly to straight away center. Yankees centerfielder Tim Locastro tracked it all the way to the wall and made a very impressive leaping catch to rob Duran of extra bases. The flyout had an expected batting average (XBA) of .830.


5. If you got home late hoping to turn on ESPN and catch the end of the game, you may have missed it. Thanks in part to a pair of solid pitching performances by Wacha and Yankees starter Jameson Taillon, the game was just two hours and 15 minutes — perhaps a preview of next season when MLB implements a pitch clock.

6. Sunday’s win clinched the Red Sox’s second series victory over an AL East opponent. The first? Thursday’s 4-3 victory over the Orioles — a one-game series that was officially approved by the league. In other words, the Red Sox now have a winning streak going.

A reason for optimism? Probably not, since the second AL East series victory took place on Aug. 14. Still, the Red Sox’s lineup is finally starting to look a little more robust.

“We’re getting healthy, which is important,” Cora told reporters. “Hopefully this is the beginning of something good.”

The Red Sox have a day off Monday before they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.


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