BOSTON -- J.D. Martinez hadn’t experienced right field in the Bronx like this. The home run he snuck over the porch on Thursday night, just out of Aaron Judge’s reach in the eighth inning, was not the novelty so much as the jeers, the venom, he heard for two straight nights patrolling the same outfield.
Yankee Stadium was out of its mind during a midweek series in May. Imagine what September will bring. Two of the games were Red Sox losses, and all of them compelling.
“It’s different. Definitely the energy,” Martinez said after his tie-breaking solo shot in the eighth inning was the difference in a 5-4 Red Sox win that prevented a three-game sweep. “I know for one, being in right field, I’ve been chirped at before out here, but it was a little bit extra this time around. But it was fun, man. It’s why you play the game. Anytime the fans get into it the way they do, even when you’re in New York and they’re saying bad stuff to you, it’s fun. It makes the game exciting and gets you into it.
"It’s a long season and there are a lot of games, and when you can get the fans into it and the fans are the way they are for a series, it definitely motivates you, gets you up and makes you feel different.”
Many people have tried to revive the great rivalry, to breathe life into what once was the best baseball had to offer. At last, its revived itself. Not because of a fight, or certainly not primarily because of a fight. Joe Kelly and Tyler Austin provided intrigue last month, but the Fenway brawl was more of an instinctive, territorial skirmish than a reflection of the capital-R rivalry.
Boston Red Sox
We’re back now. Because these are two of the best teams in baseball, and they’re playing each other like it.
“It’s not going to be like this all year. Hopefully," Hanley Ramirez said of a tie atop the American League East. “We’re going to take off. We’re going to keep winning games like we’ve been doing.”
The manager’s mother even has a little admiration for the Yankees, or at least she did at one point.
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Alex Cora has had a rough go of it at Yankee Stadium. Before this series, the last time he was here was during the American League Championship Series, when his Astros were swept in three games in this yard before winning that series back home in Houston.
Add in the first two games of this Sox-Yanks regular season series, and that’s five straight losses for the Sox skipper here.
“It took forever tonight,” Cora said Thursday. “It was like back in ’04, ’05, whenever I played here (for the Red Sox against the Yankees). It was fun for the fans, honestly. I have been saying all along those guys, they turn the page . . . I hate to say it, but my mom liked what happened with them. It’s a fun team. It’s an athletic team. I think the fans are buying into it.
“The three games felt like the Championship Series last year. It was as loud. They have something good going on there. We also have something good here. It’s going to be a fun rest of the year.”
The Yankees have been comeback kings lately, on a 17-2 run of their own presently that matches the Sox’ own incredible stretch to begin the season. On Thursday, the Yanks scored four times in the seventh to tie at 4.
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Then up stepped Martinez.
“Their at-bats here after the seventh inning, it’s just amazing,” Cora said. "What they’ve been doing here, for them it’s fun to watch. For me, it’s like, ‘Oh, God, here we go again.’ I think they’re No. 1 in OPS against relievers. They’re the best offense in baseball after the seventh inning. The guys grinded it out, honestly.”
Craig Kimbrel hinted he wanted revenge. He wanted Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge again after they rocked him on Wednesday in a 9-6 loss. He got them, and he threw a perfect ninth inning for the save.
“I think after last night I enjoyed having the same part of the lineup and getting another chance,” Kimbrel said.
These teams are enjoying each other again, their mutual energy. It's different, as Martinez said, and most of all, it's authentic.