BOSTON – Michael Wacha and the last-place Red Sox made short work of the AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Pitching for the first time in almost seven weeks, Wacha returned from a shoulder injury to limit New York to a pair of singles in seven innings, and Boston beat the Yankees 3-0 on Sunday night.
It all lasted 2 hours, 15 minutes — tying for the shortest game between the two teams since 1994.
“I feel like I work better that way,” said Wacha, who took a perfect game into the fifth inning. “That’s the mentality that I was facing: Get back in the dugout as quick as possible and let the guys keep getting a crack at their guy.”
Rafael Devers homered, and Tommy Pham had three hits for the Red Sox, who took two of three from New York — their first win in a multigame series against a division foe in 13 tries.
Officially, Boston is credited with a “series” win when it beat the Orioles in a one-game visit on Thursday. But manager Alex Cora was hesitant to count that one.
“Finally we won against the East," he said with a smirk. "Or, that’s two in a row. Sorry.”
New York has lost nine of its last 11 games but still has a double-digit lead in the division; the Red Sox are seventh in the race for the AL’s three wild-card spots.
Activated from the injured list earlier in the day and pitching for the first time since June 28, Wacha (7-1) allowed one walk and struck out nine — including major league home run leader Aaron Judge twice.
Ryan Brasier pitched a perfect eighth and Garrett Whitlock pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save, striking out Judge to end a nine-pitch at-bat and then getting Josh Donaldson on a slow bouncer that second baseman Christian Arroyo bare-handed to make the throw to first and end it.
Jameson Taillon (11-3) allowed three runs on six hits, striking out four to pick up his first loss since July 5.
The Red Sox and Yankees on national television often runs over four hours. But the teams finished in 2:15 on Aug. 3, 2018; they hadn't played a shorter game since a 2:13 matchup in 1994.
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Judge was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, snapping a string of 14 straight games of reaching base. He had walked at least twice in each of the previous four games.
“He's having a heck of a season this year, and he's one of the best in the league,” Wacha said. “I try to keep the guys off of base in front of him and make quality pitches to that type of guy.”
Asked about the offense, Cora said, “Tommy did a good job.”
A trade deadline acquisition, Pham doubled and scored Boston's first run to lead off the bottom of the first. He has 14 hits in 23 at-bats over his last five games, including a walk-off single in the 10th against the Yankees on Friday.
Devers hit his 25th homer of the season — a two-run shot in the sixth — that was just his second since Aug. 2. It's his third career 25-homer season, tied with Ted Williams, Tony Conigliaro, Jim Rice and Nomar Garciaparra for most in Red Sox history through his age 25 year.
But Devers also made a big stop at third base in the fifth, when the Yankees had two of their three baserunners in the game for their only real rally.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Kyle Higashioka hit a hard line drive down the third base line that Devers backhanded and threw to first for the out.
“That's something people don't often talk about," Cora said. “(Yankees manager Aaron Boone) always says that he plays like Brooks Robinson against the Yankees. When he hears people say he struggles (on defense), he's like, ‘Not against us.’”
Yankees: OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton (Achilles tendon) will take batting practice on Monday at Yankee Stadium. If all goes well, he will begin a minor league rehab assignment.
Red Sox: Kiké Hernández (hip) and Rob Refsnyder (knee) are expected to be activated for the start of the series in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Yankees: Gerrit Cole (9-4) will start against Tampa Bay.
Red Sox: After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox open a three-game series against the Pirates. Nick Pivetta is expected to start the opener.
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