Sale too much for Yanks again, Devers’ slam powers Red Sox
NEW YORK — Chris Sale got an earful from the biggest crowd at Yankee Stadium this season while walking from the bullpen to the bench prior to the first pitch.
The Red Sox ace said he didn’t hear the boos and insults. By the second inning, the catcalls weren’t for him, anyway.
Sale pitched his latest Bronx gem, Rafael Devers went 5 for 5 with a first-inning grand slam and Boston held New York to two hits during an 11-0 rout Saturday night to take back baseball’s best record.
Sale (8-4) allowed only Giancarlo Stanton’s clean single over seven innings, striking out 11. He has a 1.73 career ERA against the Yankees, best among pitchers with at least 10 starts against them since 1920. His ERA at Yankee Stadium is 1.86, second only to Seattle’s Felix Hernandez among pitchers with five starts.
“He looks like the best pitcher in the big leagues right now,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
Boston is a major league-leading 56-28, just ahead of the Yankees at 53-27. New York held the best mark by percentage points after winning Friday’s series opener 8-1.
Yankee Stadium hosted a season-high sellout of 47,125, and the crowd ripped into starter Sonny Gray (5-6) after he gave up six runs in 2 1/3 innings. The right-hander dropped to 0-4 with a 9.35 ERA against Boston since being acquired by New York from Oakland last season.
“I expect to come out and perform and make it fun,” Gray said. “The way I’ve thrown the ball, I don’t think it’s been fun. I feel like we’re the best team in baseball four out of five days, and then I come out and do that.”
Devers had a career-best five hits. He nearly socked another homer in the seventh, but right fielder Aaron Judge reached over the wall and knocked Devers’ shot back into play with his glove. Devers ended up with a double following a video review.
Since June 5, the 21-year-old Devers has raised his OPS from .675 to .741.
“We take it for granted because he’s talented and did what he did last year, but he’s still a kid,” Cora said, adding that Devers has been working hard with Boston’s staff to shore up the holes left in his game from racing through the minor leagues. “He’s staying with the program.”
Sandy Leon brought in Devers with a two-run homer into the second deck in right field. J.D. Martinez had three hits and three RBIs, and Mookie Betts added two hits and two walks as Boston piled up 17 hits.
Heath Hembree and Hector Velazquez closed it out with a hitless inning each. Velazquez gave up a groundball single to Gleyber Torres in the ninth for New York’s second hit.
New York had won seven consecutive games against left-handed starters and was a major league-best 19-5 against them this season, but Sale had them spinning. The Yankees hit just four balls out of the infield against Sale, and he retired his final 16 batters.
“Got punched in the face last night, so you obviously want to respond well,” Sale said.
Judge struck out three times against the lefty in three at-bats, giving him 13 punchouts in 18 career at-bats against Sale. That’s the most strikeouts for Judge against any pitcher.
Torres also struck out three times against Sale during his first career start in the leadoff spot. This was the fourth time New York was shut out this season, all in the past 18 games.
Gray quickly disposed of Betts and Andrew Benintendi to open the game, but a well-placed grounder by Martinez sparked a big first inning. After Martinez’s infield single, Mitch Moreland’s walk and Xander Bogaerts’ single, Gray floated a waist-high 1-2 curveball that Devers lofted just over the left-field wall. It was Devers’ second career slam — both this season — and his 14th homer of the year.
Benintendi and Martinez each added an RBI in the second, and Yankee Stadium fans jeered loudly as Gray walked off in the third.
Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. caught Aaron Hicks’ drive in the third while leaping and slamming into the wall in front of New York’s bullpen.
Red Sox: Boston reliever Tyler Thornburg pitched two innings for Double-A Portland on Friday and a clean inning Saturday with Triple-A Pawtucket, perhaps a final hurdle for the right-hander before he returns to the majors following surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last June.
Yankees: Hicks was visited by a trainer after being hit by a pitch on his right foot or ankle in the first inning. He remained in the game. … C Austin Romine was pulled in the seventh inning and sent for a precautionary MRI with left hamstring tightness. Results were negative, and he is day to day.
Boston LHP David Price (9-5, 3.66 ERA) and Yankees ace Luis Severino (12-2, 2.10) square off in prime time Sunday. Price is 7-1 with a 2.72 ERA in nine starts since being diagnosed with a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome that caused him to miss a turn against the Yankees in early May. Severino had his worst start this season vs. Boston on April 10, allowing five runs in five innings, but then matched a season high with 11 strikeouts in a strong outing against the Red Sox on May 8.