Yankees-Red Sox game at mercy of COVID-19

MLB

If the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox renew their rivalry Friday night at Yankee Stadium, a few key bats could be missing from the Yankees’ lineup.

Despite being among the 23 teams to be 85 percent vaccinated, the Yankees are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that could jeopardize Friday’s game at Yankee Stadium and could result in them being without Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela.

Thursday was supposed to be the first of eight games over the next two weekends that could define whether the fourth-place Yankees get back in the AL East race; they entered the All-Star break eight games behind the first-place Red Sox.

Instead, the game was postponed more than two hours before first pitch and the Yankees announced relievers Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta tested positive, joining right-handed reliever Jonathan Loaisiga on the COVID-19 list. The Yankees were awaiting three other results from lab testing after three rapid tests produced positive results; according to ESPN, those players are Judge, Urshela and backup catcher Kyle Higashioka.

“We’ll just tackle it as best as we can as far as first and foremost obviously anyone that’s tested positive, making sure (to) help them be as healthy as they can be,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

The Yankees reached the 85 percent threshold early in the season, but this is their second outbreak. In mid-May, nine members of their traveling party contracted COVID-19, but no games were canceled. Gleyber Torres missed nearly a week, but it was later revealed to be a false positive. Third base coach Phil Nevin fought a serious bout with COVID-19 that cost him nearly a month and saw him lose 22 pounds.

“I don’t want to speak for the commissioner (about) what led to the final official decision for him to cancel the competition between Boston and New York, but he took all aspects involved,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said.

“I’m sure from his perspective in his chair, until this very fluid situation declares itself and we all really know what we’re dealing with, better safe than sorry. That’s probably what went into his decision-making process.”

If the game is played Friday, the Red Sox will try to improve to 7-0 in the season series. While they have won four games by three runs or fewer, they hit three homers off Gerrit Cole in a 9-2 rout on June 27.

The status of Friday’s game also could depend on test results of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Matt Barnes and Nate Eovaldi, who shared the clubhouse with Judge at Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

“Obviously I’m worried,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told the Boston Globe while not knowing the Yankees were awaiting results for Judge. “Some of (the Boston All-Stars) are vaccinated. Some of them are not. Just a matter of hopefully they get tested today. They got tested this morning, I think it was, and hopefully everything comes back the way it should.”

If Friday’s game is played, the Red Sox will likely unveil prospect Jarren Duran. He was slated to bat seventh and play center field before the postponement.

Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez (6-5, 5.52 ERA), who is 2-5 with a 6.21 ERA in his past 13 starts, was scheduled to start Thursday and likely would take the mound Friday.

He last pitched July 7 against the Angels, allowing four runs on nine hits in five innings. He had allowed two runs over 12 innings in his previous two outings.

The left-hander is 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season. He is 7-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 20 career appearances (18 starts) against New York.

Domingo German (4-5, 4.44), slated to pitch Thursday for New York, is expected to go Friday. German is making his first start since June 30, when he pitched three innings before a rain delay.

German was scratched from his start July 7 in Seattle due to an emergency root canal and made a pair of relief appearances before the All-Star break.

German is 2-2 with a 4.72 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) against the Red Sox.

–Field Level Media

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