Forget about any predicted regression to the mean for the Boston Red Sox, at least in Thursday's tilt against the New York Yankees. While the Red Sox did not achieve the majestic heights they scaled in their 20-run effort on Wednesday, the offense also proved the performance was not a fluke. Against the New York Yankees, the Red Sox were once again able to group together a bunch of hits, mixed in with some other positive plays, to defeat the Yankees 9-8 to remind everyone that they are the best team in the division.
The nine hits the Red Sox scored in the game came courtesy of the tremendous batting line of .356 BA/.420 OBP/.533 SLG with a .405 wOBA, going 5 for 15 in at-bats with runners in scoring position, and also making other productive plays to take advantage of most of their opportunities to score. In other words, the Red Sox hitters were at their best, and it showed throughout the contest and was reflected in the .758 win probability added their efforts achieved.
Although each of the individual runs counted the same on the scoreboard, as George Orwell might state it, there were some runs that were more equal than others. The two runs the Red Sox scored that were more equal than others were the ones they used to tie the game in the ninth inning and then the one to go ahead for good in the tenth inning.
Facing a one-run deficit in the ninth inning and faced Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who is the best closer to ever pitch in the major leagues, the Red Sox used a single, a stolen base accompanied by a throwing error that allowed Quentin Berry to advance to third base, and then an RBI single that Stephen Drew rapped into right field. There was nothing extraordinary about the way in which the Red Sox scored that game-tying run, but the collection of those three events represented a win probability added of .389.
In the tenth inning, the Red Sox again benefited from their nickel and diming technique of scoring runs, not doing anything flashy in the inning, but still getting results. Actually, the game-winning run they scored could very well be considered a glitch in the Matrix since the Red Sox very nearly repeated their run-scoring formula from the previous inning. The Red Sox employed a single, a stolen base, and an RBI single that allowed Ellsbury to cross home plate; the three plays amounted to a win probability added of .400.
Why the Red Sox even needed those two runs to win the game after amassing a 7-2 lead by the end of the top of the seventh inning added some drama to a game that looked like it would be another blowout victory for the Red Sox. A combination of a breakout performance by the Yankees offense in the bottom of the seventh, who had been mostly unproductive to that point, and an implosion by three of the Red Sox pitchers almost cost the Red Sox the game. Where the Red Sox spread out their nine runs across six innings, the Yankees bunched theirs up in two innings with the seventh inning where they did most of their damage.
The Yankees set the tone for the seventh inning by getting their first four hitters on base and scoring a run before they made their first out. Then the Yankees rode RBI-producing plays in four of the next five plate appearances to score an additional five runs. The two most valuable hits the Yankees garnered were both hit off reliever Junichi Tazawa: Curtis Granderson's RBI double and Lyle Overbay's two-RBI single. By the end of the inning, the Yankees had seen their win expectancy increase from 3.8 percent to 74.5 percent.
Still, the Red Sox offense was too potent and the Yankees offense was too inconsistent, which allowed the Red Sox to continue to score when the Yankees stopped, giving the Red Sox another victory over their historical rival. For all of the late-inning drama, it was also their eighth victory in 13 games over the Yankees this season so the Yankees still have a ways to go to threaten the dominance of the 2013 Boston Red Sox.