BOSTON — It was a tourniquet. Nothing more, nothing less.
That was what this weekend’s four-game marathon of a series at Fenway Park turned out to be for the New York Yankees. They won two and lost two and ended up in the same place they were going into it: 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox.
Considering where the Yankees started the series, with the season-ending injury news about Michael Pineda and Greg Bird, and how Saturday’s 16-inning and nearly six-hour game could have easily tilted in Boston’s favor, splitting the series wasn’t the worst thing — even if it meant the Yanks hadn’t won a series in their past nine tries, losing seven and tying two.
“We are going in the right direction,” manager Joe Girardi said.
On Sunday, the Yankees exchanged 3-0 results in a doubleheader with the Red Sox. CC Sabathia and a bullpen of Tyler Clippard, Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman were better than Boston in the daylight, while David Price and Craig Kimbrel were superior during the evening.
Masahiro Tanaka pitched reasonably well, but not as good as good as Price. Tanaka threw 7⅔ innings, while allowing three runs; the biggest two were on a hanging slider to Mookie Betts in the third inning. Tanaka made the night easier for the bullpen, which is one of his objectives for the second half.
“The goal is to really go deep into games,” Tanaka said.
Aaron Judge, though 1-of-18 since the All-Star break, almost had a little more magic. In the eighth inning, he launched a nearly 420-foot shot to right-center that Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed by reaching into the Red Sox bullpen to prevent a two-run homer. It was nailed to the triangular portion of the wall in center. A foot or two to the right and Bradley wouldn’t have made the play.
“I just hit it to the wrong part of the park and to the wrong center fielder,” Judge said. “Jackie has been making plays like that for a long time.”
The Yankees have been losing a lot of games of late. Even with the two wins, they’ve lost 20 of their past 29. While it was good that they treaded water, it was not good enough, according to Judge.
“It is not good,” Judge said. “With Boston in first place, we want to shorten that lead a little bit, but we came out 2 and 2.”
Judge should feel that way, since he is on the field. An observer, on the other hand, can look at this trip as one the Yankees needed to just get through.
They still have seven more road games to go, starting on Monday in Minnesota, where Bryan Mitchell will open a three-game series against the Twins, who are 1.5 games back in the American League wild-card race. After that, it’s another slate of four against the Seattle Mariners.
Luis Cessa will get the ball on Tuesday, then the next two outings will begin to answer how much the Yankees miss Pineda.
Pineda is inconsistent, but he is a major league starter. No one knows if Cessa or Mitchell are yet — although they both have their moments.
The Yankees, for their part, had some highlights this weekend. They stopped the avalanche, which could be the start of something good. It could have been much worse.