Ben Rice becomes 1st Yankees rookie to hit 3 homers in a game in a 14-4 rout of Red Sox


NEW YORK — Ben Rice became the first Yankees rookie to homer three times in a game and drove in seven runs as New York snapped a four-game slide with a 14-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

Alex Verdugo hit a two-run homer and drew the ire of the Red Sox with a 32-second trot around the bases. D.J. LeMahieu also drove in a pair of runs as the Yankees won for the fifth time in 19 games. Aaron Judge added two hits.

Rafael Devers had a long homer and two RBI for Boston, which had its five-game winning streak halted.

Rice led off the game with a drive to right off Josh Winckowski and added a three-run shot off reliever Chase Anderson as part of a seven-run fifth inning. The 25-year-old first baseman capped his day with a second homer off Anderson in the seventh inning.

“What a game!” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “To set the tone right away in the first inning with a homer and put together a legendary day. Something he’ll never forget.”

After Rice’s third homer, Juan Soto stepped out of the batter’s box to allow the rookie to take a curtain call. Rice had to be encouraged by the entire New York dugout to step out to acknowledge the cheers.

“It was all happening so fast,” Rice said. “Thankfully got it in. That was pretty awesome!”

Rice entered the game with one homer in his first 46 big league at-bats. He grew up in Cohasset, Massachusetts, and signed the Pesky Pole as a child, joking that he infamously wrote ‘Yankees Rule.’ Rice noted that the only other time he could recall hitting three homers in a game was in summer league baseball in 2019. His parents were in attendance Saturday.

“Definitely a day I will never forget,” Rice said. “Pumped it was a big-time win for us over my hometown team.”

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Rice is the first rookie among the 22 Yankees who have hit three homers in a game.

“I knew right away he got it,” Boone said of Rice’s milestone homer. “Wow, what a day!”

The Yankees’ 14-hit, 14-run barrage bailed out starter Gerrit Cole, who allowed seven hits and four runs in 4 1/3 innings while striking out eight and walking two. He had struck out five straight batters before Devers’ homer and Boone believed the steamy New York weather affected Cole’s performance.

“I thought he made a lot of really good pitches all day,” Boone said. “It was really hot and I think that took its toll, especially the at-bats they took against him in the first couple of innings.”

Since returning from a right elbow injury in mid-June, Cole has failed to complete five innings in three of his four starts. Eight of Boston’s nine starters were left-handed hitters — something Cole wasn’t sure he had faced before.

“That’s forcing you to be creative,” Cole said. “It’s definitely unique.”

Devers was responsible for most of the damage against New York’s ace. In addition to a 441-foot homer, Devers had an RBI single in the third, his 1,000th career hit. As he headed toward first base after his fifth-inning homer, he shouted and gestured toward Verdugo in left field as Cole menacingly stared at him. The blast was Devers’ eighth against Cole in 43 plate appearances.

“Little by little he became a complete hitter.” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “He is the face of the franchise.”

After Soto ground out to open the fifth inning, Judge singled off Brennan Bernadino (3-2). Verdugo dropped a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line. Judge came around to score on Anthony Volpe’s ground-rule double. After a pitching change, Trent Grisham was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Rookie pinch-hitter Austin Wells forced in a run with another walk. A sacrifice fly and a LeMahieu single scored two more runs and forced another pitching change before Rice drove Chase Anderson’s second pitch into right-center field, breaking the game open.

Tim Hill (2-0) threw 2 2-3 scoreless innings for his first victory as a member of the Yankees. New York signed the veteran left-hander on June 20.

THE CHAMPS ARE HERE

UConn head men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley — winner of back-to-back NCAA championships —threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The lefty-tossing Hurley also threw out the first pitch in the Bronx on July 23, 2023, after the Huskies’ fifth national championship.

LOST IN NEW YORK

Cora has been running four miles a day going back to spring training. On Saturday, he ran through Central Park and realized he was lost. “At one point I was somewhere, and I was like, ‘No, I’m not supposed to be here,’” Cora said. “I was actually two miles away from the hotel. I was like you know what, I’m going to Uber to the hotel.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: 2B Gleyber Torres (groin) was held out of the lineup. New York manager Aaron Boone indicated Torres was available off the bench and could return to the lineup Sunday.

Red Sox: Cora did not have an update on RHP Chris Martin, who went on the 15-day IL Friday with right elbow inflammation. … There is no timeline for INF Vaughn Grissom’s return. The 23-year old has been on the injured list since March, although Cora noted that there has been some improvement.

UP NEXT

Struggling New York RHP Luis Gil (9-4, 3.41 ERA) opposes RHP Kutter Crawford (4-7, 3.47 ERA) in the series finale.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb



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