June 29, 2021
The Boston Red Sox officially own the New York Yankees.
They left a hefty down payment in the Bronx three weekends ago, and the deed was delivered to Landsdowne Street this past Sunday afternoon. The Sox did what they do best Friday and Saturday night, outlasting an opponent that simply does not have the heart to stand up to a team of fighters like them. Sunday was the cherry on top, a nine-inning celebration of superiority where the Red Sox slapped around the Yankees’ $324 million ace like some $18/hour ham and egger.
Gerrit Cole was the only thing standing between the Yankees and a second straight sweep at the hands of their arch nemesis. Elite pitchers like Cole are counted on to stop losing streaks and give a strong effort every time they take the hill. Yet his first pitch of the game was lined into the monster seats by Kike Hernandez. Four batters later, Rafael Devers hit a 100 mph fastball so hard that the government put Bruce Willis’ deep core drilling team on standby due to the threat it posed upon landing. JD Martinez added another blast a few innings later, chasing Cole to the showers to complete his worst start of the season.
Cole’s ERA is 4.65 since MLB began spot-checking pitchers for sticky substances, and his pitches now spin slower than the earth does on its axis. No Yankee other than D.J. LeMahieu or Aaron Judge drove in a run with a hit this past weekend. Not that those two get to escape any accountability. LeMahieu was at the plate with the tying run on base in the ninth inning on Friday and hit into a game-ending double play. Judge came up with the tying run on base in the ninth Saturday night and struck out to end the game. It was a narrative that perfectly framed the story of the series. Cole, LeMahieu, Judge … the Bombers’ biggest individual guns were no match for the collective iron fist of the Boston Red Sox.
I’ve always hated the Yankees, but now I kind of hate them for making things less interesting. They’re actually making it almost hard to hate them, and do you have any idea how much it bothers me to almost not hate the Yankees? A team with a $201 million payroll is somehow in fourth place in the American League East and 0-6 against the Red Sox with a -6 run differential on the season. Barring some drastic turnaround by a team full of overmatched, dejected, soulless ninnies, the New York Yankees are somehow not a factor in the playoff hunt. It’d be almost sad if it wasn’t so amazingly awesome.
Speaking of sad, Garrett Richards was back at it again Monday night, and he did not disappoint. After sharting down his leg in each of his appearances since the beginning of sticky-gate, Richards soiled the back of his trousers against the Royals like Uta Pippig in the ’96 Boston Marathon.
In the first two innings, Richards gave up home runs to Carlos Santana, Michael A. Taylor, Whit Merrifield, George Brett, Kevin Seitzer, Brian McRae, and Pat Tabler. Luckily, the Red Sox are the Red Sox. Once Richards got the hook, Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor, and Matt Barnes allowed one baserunner combined while the Boston offense stormed back to win 6-5 on the back of two Hunter Renfroe dingers, gaining another half game on the Rays and a full game on the spiraling Yankees.
Unless the baseball is coated in something manufactured by ACME, Garrett Richards is simply not a Major League caliber pitcher. Worse than that, he whines about it afterward. I could not possibly be more ready to see him leave Boston for good. And not the traditional way either. I don’t want to see Chaim Bloom thank him for giving his all to the team before handing him a first-class plane ticket to Shea Stadium (cuz this guy is just destined to be a Met). Garrett Richards deserves the going away party that Dave Mustaine got from Metallica in 1983: A prompt wake up from a drunken blackout, a long-distance bus ticket, a slice of bologna for the ride, and a kick in the ass.
And when you think about it, that’s the best possible ending for Richards in Boston. Because once Chris Sale is back at the top of this starting rotation, there will be no sympathy for some guy who can’t pull his weight on the field and then whines to the press about not being allowed to cut corners. If Garrett Richards is still pulling this crap in a Red Sox uniform in mid-August, he may very well get his pink slip delivered in a pillowcase along with a bar of soap just like Private Pyle.
Remember, it’s just for bad pitching, Megadeth.
Hunter Renfroe is a revelation.
I’ll be honest; when Boston signed him this past winter, I wondered why they would bother bringing some thirty-seven-year-old platoon player out of retirement to join a team full of young, athletic players with something to prove. Turns out, that’s just because I thought Hunter Renfroe was actually Hunter Pence.
After a largely unmentionable start to the season, Renfroe has been on a warpath of late, batting .381 with 3 home runs, 10 RBI, and 10 hits in the past week. He’s also making circus catches and squashing rallies from right field at an alarming rate, with 11 outfield assists already (the guys in second place have 8). I could swear I saw Aaron Judge cry a single tear of envy from the bench as Renfroe gunned down Gio Urshela at the plate Friday night.
I’ll wrap up by saying I saw Hirokazu Sawamura throw a 96 mph splitter Monday night, which is about as rare a sight as seeing Donald Trump apologize for something. 90% of the pitchers in MLB throw 96 mph fastballs these days, but a 96 mph splitter is a marvel. Imagine standing in the batter’s box as a pitch comes waist-high over the plate at nearly a hundred miles per hour, but the ball is ankle high in the catcher’s mitt by the time your hands get the signal from your brain to swing. It’s like watching a wide receiver do this.
Hiro has the hardest splitter in the league by far. If he can harness that pitch and figure out how to throw it at that speed with regularity, no Red Sox opponent may get another hit after the fifth inning for the rest of the year. Between Sawamura, Garrett Whitlock, Josh Taylor, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Barnes, the Red Sox bullpen has the talent and, far more importantly, the nerve to outperform any bullpen in baseball.
Did I mention that Chris Sale is on his way back?