Instead of falling 5 1/2 games back in the American League East, the Yankees closed to within 3 1/2 of their first-place rivals while winning for just the eighth time in 27 games since June 13.
After Gregorius put the Yankees in front for the first time all day, Austin Romine added an insurance RBI single and Gary Sanchez lofted a sacrifice fly. All of the damage came against Red Sox right-hander Doug Fister, who is scheduled to start on Tuesday night but pitched 2 2/3 innings in this one when Boston ran out of arms.
Holliday, a central figure in this one, gave the Yankees life when he bashed his shot off Kimbrel to lead off the top of the ninth. Holliday’s equalizer had a projected distance of 443 feet, according to Statcast™.
A bizarre baserunning play by Holliday in the top of the 11th led Red Sox manager John Farrell to inform the umpires he was playing the rest of the game under protest.
With Holliday at first base and none out in the 11th, Jacoby Ellsbury chopped a ball to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who threw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts for a force at second base. Holliday stopped in the baseline and broke back toward first base, sliding feet-first into the bag as Boston attempted to complete a double play.
Bogaerts’ throw clipped Ellsbury in the left leg as Moreland was screened from catching the ball. Ellsbury was ruled safe on a fielder’s choice, which prompted Farrell to ask crew chief Gary Cederstrom if there had been interference. The subsequent reviews and explanations took four minutes and 59 seconds before the ruling was that the play stands.
It was another riveting game between the rivals. Ace Chris Sale was again magnificent for the Red Sox, holding the Yankees to three hits and no runs over 7 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out 13. The performance ended with a strikeout of Sanchez on a nasty 1-2 slider on Sale’s 118th pitch of the day, his season high. The lefty departed with a 1-0 lead, and Farrell brought Kimbrel on in the eighth inning for the first time since June 6. Initially, it paid off, as the closer got superstar rookie Aaron Judge to fly out to right to cap off an entertaining 10-pitch at-bat.
Luis Severino nearly matched Sale, allowing one run over seven strong innings. The only run in the first eight innings was a sacrifice fly by Moreland in the bottom of the third that put Boston ahead.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.