The Wednesday Takeaway
The Yankees and Red Sox came in tied atop the American League East, with respective rosters that look like they could go right down to the wire. On Wednesday night, the Yankees picked up right where they left off, grabbing the lead in their first two at-bats in the bottom of the first. Brett Gardner led off with a double, and Aaron Judge cashed in the opportunity with an RBI knock. But the lead would hold up less than half an inning, as Mitch Moreland vaulted Boston ahead with a two-run shot in the second:
The Yankees got three runs in the third to wrestle the lead back, as Giancarlo Stanton doubled home a pair and scored himself on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Hicks. Each team plated one more run in the fifth, and the Sox cut it to a one-run game in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Chad Green left a breaking ball hanging over the plate to Hanley Ramirez, who proceeded to pound the ball into the stratosphere:
It was 6-5 Red Sox into the bottom of the eighth. Matt Barnes surrendered a leadoff double to Neil Walker, Miguel Andujar grounded out, and Gleyber Torres walked. That brought up the top of the order—Gardner, who had two doubles to his name already. With another double liable to swing the lead, Boston manager Alex Cora brought in Craig Kimbrel before the ninth inning for the second consecutive night. Gardner didn’t double again.
Chapman closed it out, and the Yankees moved a game ahead of the Red Sox, ensuring they will leave this series no worse than tied for the AL East lead.
Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks is known for his glove, not his bat. In 1052 career at-bats entering play Wednesday, Ahmed had an average of .227 to go with 25 home runs and 13 steals—suboptimal, to say the least, for a player penciled into the second spot in the batting order as Ahmed was against the Dodgers. As thanks, Ahmed vindicated Torey Lovullo‘s lineup methodology—and delivered one of the most heartstopping highlights of the 2018 season to date—in just the first inning:
Kike Hernandez didn’t help matters by taking a bad route—facing his body toward left field as he veered back toward deep right-center in a curious strategy that nearly resulted in Hernandez tripping over his own feet at least four times on the run. But this ball was about three inches short of being a traditional home run—even a perfect run and climb would’ve gotten it just some of the time.
Carlos Carrasco turned in the throwback-style performance of the young season Wednesday against the Brewers. Andrew Miller is still working his way back for Cleveland, Nick Goody went on the disabled list last week, and closer Cody Allen has found himself covering extra shifts in their stead with few reliable options around him right now. Wednesday night, however, the bullpen was entirely unnecessary. Carrasco threw 117 pitches to go wire-to-wire yielding just five hits, a walk, and two runs while striking out 14 to lead his team to a 6-2 win.
Carrasco’s second complete game of the season would’ve been enough of a boss-level performance on its own—but it came with a bit of spice to take it to another level. In the top of the ninth, Carrasco’s spot in the order came up. Not only did he hit for himself in the ninth inning—the ultimate accomplishment in earning your manager’s trust—he came through in that spot with an RBI single:
Speaking of heroic one-man efforts, the Rangers owe their Wednesday victory to Nomar Mazara. Mazara tied the game with a home run in the seventh inning, then walked it off when he came up again in the bottom of the 10th:
It was just three short years ago that the Cubs were fiddling with Kris Bryant‘s MLB service time, launching a discussion that continues to this day when they waited several weeks to call him up. Wednesday night, the Cubs’ World Series hero already stamped his membership card to the 100 Home Run Club. Bryant killed the suspense by getting the century clout over and done with in the first inning, off of Marlins’ starter Wei-Yin Chen
Managerial Blunder of the Year (So Far)
Mickey Callaway was managing his 35th career game on Wednesday, which is about 34 more games of experience than you should have if you make a mistake of this magnitude:
An out-of-order batting lineup happens about once or twice a decade or so. For it to legitimately affect the game is even rarer. But the Mets lost a runner on second (Asdrubal Cabrera had hit out of order) with two outs, instead ending the inning as it stood.
That potential run came up huge, as the Reds took the Mets to extra innings and won on an Adam Duvall homer.
What to Watch on Thursday
Giants/Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET is the only day game, everybody else plays at night. Set your fantasy lineups accordingly.
The Red Sox and Yankees do battle in game three of their series, first pitch at 7:05 p.m. ET. Eduardo Rodriguez takes the hill for Boston, he’ll be countered by the resurgent C.C. Sabathia looking to get a sweep for the Yankees.
Walker Buehler vs. Tyler Mahle poses a fascinating matchup of rookie pitchers. Buehler led the way for a combined no-hitter, plus brings blue-chip prospect stock and an electric 2018 performance to the table. Mahle has been far less spectacular but his 9.6 K/9 rate is turning heads, and he’s solidified a spot in the Reds’ rotation for now.
[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly indicated the AL East standings.]