|Brett Gardner. @Yankees.|
The Yankees came back late to beat the Boston Red Sox, 9-6, on Wednesday night at The Stadium to improve to 26-10 and pass Boston for the the best record in all of baseball and the American League East.
The Yankees have now won eight straight, and all of their wins have come against teams in sole possession or tied for first place at the start of the game.
According to Elias, this is the second-longest streak against solely first-place teams by any club in baseball history, trailing only the Cincinnati Reds, who won 10 games in this fashion from June 21 to July 1, 1999.
The streak includes three wins in Houston against the defending World Champion Astros, three over the weekend at home against the Cleveland Indians, and the last two against Boston. All three were playoff teams last season.
They have also won 17 of their last 18 games, the first time they have done that since June 2-18, 1953, when it part of an extended 21-1 stretch.
The Yankees have been nothing short of a machine during this 18-game stretch.
Their pitching has really turned it on, with their starters pitching to a 2.19 ERA during this stretch, allowing just 26 earned runs in 106.2 innings pitched.
Overall, the Yankees pitching staff has posted a 2.28 era in this run, allowing just 41 earned runs (45 overall) on 120 hits, including just 13 home runs, and 45 walks, with 182 strikeouts in 162 innings pitched.
Their batters have averaged 6.11 runs per game over the stretch, with a slash line as a team of .250/.331/.454, with 110 runs scored, 25 home runs, 42 doubles, two triples, and 74 walks.
On Wednesday night, Boston's Rick Porcello entered with a 5-0 record and a 2.14 ERA.
The Yankees lineup made Porcello look ordinary, as they touched him up for five runs (all earned) on eight hits and three walks, and just three strikeouts in five innings. His ERA jumped 65 points to 2.79.
Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka also had a tough night, allowing four runs on eight hits, including a couple of home runs, and a pair of walks, with three strikeouts.
Tanaka left with the Yankees up 5-4, and Chad Green came on in the seventh and allowed a two-run blast to Hanley Ramirez to give Boston the lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, after Neil Walker doubled to open the inning and Gleyber Torres earned a one-out walk, Boston turned to their closer, Craig Kimbrel, to earn a five-out save.
This was the second time in three days a team turned to their closer in the eighth inning, as Cleveland turned to Cody Allen for a five-out save on Sunday. That was a game the Yankees won, 7-4, on a Gleyber Torres three-run homer after they chased Allen from the game.
The Yankees lineup, a machine at this point, went to work on Kimbrel, as Brett Gardner (who had two doubles at point) launched a triple to left center field, plating Walker and Torres to give the Yankees a 7-6 lead.
The Bronx Bombers weren't done, as Aaron Judge launched a two-run blast to make it 9-6. It was just the second blown save of the season for Kimbrel, regarded by some as the best closer in baseball.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who also is in the conversation as best in the game, came on in the ninth and struck out the side to earn his ninth save of the season.
The Yankees have shown over the past week that they can beat anybody's bullpen, as they got two wins in their last at-bat in Houston, two against Cleveland, and this one against Boston.
This is a lineup that will wear you down and generally make teams panic, as Boston did last night.
The Red Sox went through three relievers before biting the bullet and going to their closer in the eighth.
This is only May, and teams are doing something that has become very uncommon to do in the regular season. They know it's their only chance, and wins against the Yankees are going to be hard to come by.
If the Yankees are racking up wins against the best competition they will meet in the American League, who exactly is going to beat this juggernaut?