BOSTON (CBS) — After the Red Sox let a 4-0 lead over the Yankees slip away in the seventh inning on Thursday night, Hanley Ramirez urged J.D. Martinez to quickly break up the tie.
With the Red Sox desperately in need of a win against their rival, Martinez obliged, sending a Dellin Betances offering into the right field seats to lead off the eighth inning. It wasn’t the monster homer most would expect out of the Boston righty, who has a perfect swing for the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. Instead, Martinez got just enough on the 97-MPH fastball to sneak it into the stands.
“I hit it, and I was like blowing, praying, doing everything I can to push it over. I knew it had a chance,” Martinez said after the game.
The blast, which just snuck just out of the reach of a leaping Aaron Judge, was the eventual game-winner in Boston’s 5-4 victory. The win moved them into a tie with the Yankees for first place in the AL East.
“I told him before he went up — ‘You better hit a homer right here.’ And he did,” recalled Ramirez. “That’s good. I told him to his face, ‘We need a homer from you right here.’ And he went out and hit it.”
The homer was Martinez’s ninth of the season and only hit of the night. He drove in another run earlier in the game on a fielder’s choice, upping his team-leading total to 29 RBIs for the season.
Ramirez and Martinez, the heart of Boston’s lineup, have made life difficult on opposing pitching this season. Ramirez homered for the second straight game on Thursday, launching a solo shot off New York starter C.C. Sabathia in the fifth inning to put Boston up 4-0. Ramirez was 2-for-4 with three RBIs on Thursday night.
Boston dropped two of three to the Yankees to lose their slim lead in the division, but Ramirez believes Thursday night’s W is going to be the start of something great.
“We’re going to take off,” he said. “We’re going to keep winning games like we’ve been doing. It’s a long season. You’re going to have ups and downs. Our manager, man, everybody here is loose and everybody comes here every day ready to work and we do what we’ve got to do every day to win games.”
The Red Sox and Yankees are both 26-11 on the season, sharing the best record in baseball. Boston will finish off their 10-game road trip with a three-game set against the Blue Jays in Toronto starting Friday night.