It felt like the biggest series of the year three days ago, as the Boston Red Sox prepared to host the New York Yankees amid a tight playoff race.
But with the Yankees pulling off the sweep thanks to a 6-3 result on Sunday, they managed to pull one game ahead of the Red Sox to claim the first American League wild card spot.
“It’s not where we wanted coming into the series, right?” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said via Zoom after the loss. “We wanted to win the series and keep that first wild card. But it didn’t happen, but we’re still in position to make the playoffs. That’s not the worst-case scenario.”
The Red Sox maintain the second wild card spot, with just a 1/2 game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays.
But for as big as this series felt for both sides, a lot more is riding on how New York’s next series goes against Toronto.
“We still have a wild card spot, right? So we know that the Jays and the Yankees are playing against each other,” Cora said.
Starting Tuesday, Boston’s two AL East rivals face off before New York pivots to the first-place Tampa Bay Rays, leaving little margin for error. After their series with the Yankees, the Blue Jays end things off with the Baltimore Orioles.
“We know that somebody is going to lose in the next three games and you can gain ground, so you just got to make sure you’re locked in Tuesday and start playing good baseball,” Cora said.
In the mean time, Boston faces the Orioles before finishing off the regular season with the Washington Nationals.
It’s an easier road than their division competitors, but not a slate the Red Sox can take lightly with their season on the line.
Here are some more notes from Red Sox-Yankees:
— For what it’s worth (not a lot), the Red Sox at least have the edge on the season series against the Yankees. Good thing for those Boston sweeps earlier this summer.
“Some guys are swinging the bat better now than they were at the beginning of the season,” Cora said of the Yankees. “It’s baseball. I know it doesn’t looks great but that 10-9 might mean something great in the coming days.”
— This game was not won or lost by the umpiring, but Christian Vázquez wishes more could have been done right before Aaron Judge’s two-run double that sealed the deal.
The catcher caught a foul-tip behind the plate for the third out, but umpire Joe West called for the at-bat to continue on account that Vázquez dropped the ball. He did drop the ball in the transfer, but not until after the ball was secure in the back of his glove.
“Yeah, I caught the ball and I dropped it in the transfer,” Vázquez said after the game via Zoom. “I think they should get together and get a better call.
“That’s the first time that happened to me, that situation.”
Vázquez says he pushed for a challenge but nothing came of it.
— Credit where credit is due, Giancarlo Stanton crushed this weekend. With his two-run homer late in the game, he became the first Yankee with at least three home runs and 10 RBI in a three-game series against the Red Sox since someone named Mickey Mantle in 1954, per New York Yankees Stats.
— The Red Sox get a day off Monday before finishing off the last six games of the regular season. And Boston will need every win it can muster against the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals.
First pitch between the Red Sox and Orioles on Tuesday is at 7:05 p.m. ET.