J.A. Happ won in his return to New York’s rotation after being skipped for a turn, Mike Ford drove in three runs and the Yankees beat Boston 4-2 Sunday night for their ninth straight victory over the Red Sox, their best spurt against their rival in nearly 70 years.
Hours after second baseman DJ LeMahieu joined Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list, Ford put New York ahead when he dumped an RBI single into short center field in the first inning, then gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead with a two-run homer off Chris Mazza (0-1) in the third.
AL East-leading New York improved to 15-6 as the schedule passed the one-third point — the equivalent 41-16 over a full season and its best start since 2003. The Yankees are 9-0 at home for the first time since 1987 and are on their longest winning streak against Boston since taking 12 in a row from Aug. 16, 1952, to April 23, 1953. New York has won 20 of its last 24 home games vs. the Red Sox and 14 of 15 against Boston overall.
Boston has been outscored 67-31 during a seven-game losing streak, dropping to an AL-worst 6-16. The skid is equivalent to 19 straight losses in a normal season.
Happ (1-1) allowed one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings in his first home start this year, giving up Kevin Pillar’s home run down the left-field line in the third. The 37-year-old left-hander has a 6.39 ERA over three starts and 12 2/3 innings, and likely has eight starts remaining at most in the shortened season. His contract includes a $17 million option for 2021 that was to be guaranteed for either 27 starts or 165 innings, which becomes 10 starts or 61 1/3 innings.
Happ ended a five-start regular-season winless streak, getting his first victory since beating Boston last Sept. 7 and improving to 12-4 against the Red Sox by winning his fifth straight decision against them. Adam Ottovino, Chad Green and Zack Britton finished the five-hitter, with Britton remaining perfect in eight save chances. Britton misplayed a two-out grounder for an error that allowed an unearned run, then struck out Kevin Plawecki with a man on.
LeMahieu, the AL batting leader with a .411 average, sprained his left thumb while swinging at a pitch Saturday. Scans did not show a break, but the Yankees don’t want to announce a prognosis until after the records are examined by a hand specialist who worked with LeMahieu two years ago. Judge, who went on the injured list last week with a straight right calf, said he expects to be activated Saturday at the New York Mets.
Tyler Wade started at second and went 0 for 4. Clint Frazier, the designated hitter in place of Stanton (strained left hamstring), went 1 for 4 and is 8 for 15 since his recall. Mike Tauchman, playing right in place of Judge, was 2 for 4.
Aaron Hicks, moved to leadoff in LeMahieu’s absence, had an RBI double in the second inning on a ball that was headed for first baseman Michael Chavis but hit the base and bounded into right field.
Boston is off to its poorest start since 1996 and its 6.03 ERA is the highest in the major leagues.
Chris Mazza (0-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in three innings while throwing a career-high 66 pitches. Related to the famous trio of DiMaggio brothers, Mazza got his first career start. He made his big league debut in June 2019 with the Mets and the 30-year-old right-hander was acquired off waivers in December.
One of Mazza’s grandmothers was a cousin of brothers Joe, Dom and Vince DiMaggio. He pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees on Aug. 1 in his only prior appearance this season and was given his first big league start — becoming Boston’s 11th starter in 22 games.
Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez went 1 for 4, ending his streak of home runs in three straight games. He took a called third strike from Ryan Brasier that stranded the bases loaded in the seventh.
Right-hander Dylan Covey was optioned to the alternate training site to open a roster spot for Mazza, who was recalled.
Yankees: 3B/OF Miguel Andújar was recalled from New York’s alternate training site at Scranton to take LeMahieu's roster spot and probably will start Monday. ... Closer Aroldis Chapman likely will be activated Monday after recovering from COVID-19, which delayed his season.
Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 5.17 ERA) starts for the Yankees and Martin Pérez (2-2, 3.38 ERA) for the Red Sox in a matchup of left-handers that ends the four-game series. Pérez’s only previous appearance at Yankee Stadium was for Texas on Aug. 12, 2018, when he allowed home runs to Stanton and Didi Gregorius in a 7-2 loss.