The Yankees finished the first half the way they spent most of it: by dismantling an opponent.
After dropping five of six, the Yankees romped over the Red Sox for a second straight day with a 13-2 win on Sunday in The Bronx, scoring 27 combined runs on 26 total hits and 14 walks in the two games.
The victory sent the Yankees to the break with the best record in the majors (64-28) and a 13-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the AL East.
“All we’ve done is put ourselves in a great position to do something special,’’ Aaron Boone said before the game.
In front of a third consecutive sell-out crowd at the Stadium, the Yankees put another dent in Boston’s hopes of threatening in the second half, sending the Red Sox to their sixth loss in seven games — with Chris Sale headed back to the IL after the left-hander suffered a fractured left pinky when Aaron Hicks lined a shot off his pitching hand in the Yankees’ three-run first.
After Boston rookie Jeter Downs hit his first career homer to make it 3-2 in the second, the Yankees put the game away with eight runs in the fourth — an inning that started with a Tim Locastro single and was capped off by Locastro’s two-run homer.
Joey Gallo even got in on the action, homering in the seventh after entering as a defensive replacement.
Something else to keep an eye on is the fact the Red Sox hit three Yankee batters, with the Yankees seemingly especially displeased when Anthony Rizzo got hit in the hip in the second and DJ LeMahieu in the elbow in the eighth.
Gerrit Cole retired the first seven batters he faced before Jackie Bradley Jr.’s single with one out in the third, which was followed by Downs’ blast. He then set down the next eight Red Sox batters and allowed just the two runs over seven innings.
The win allowed the Yankees to go into their break with the best record in the American League before they open the second half with a one-day trip to Houston for a Thursday doubleheader against the Astros — who are closing in on that top spot in the AL.
The game got off to an interesting start, as Cole — who had allowed six homers to Rafael Devers in 25 plate appearances — threw his first pitch to the third baseman low and inside, forcing Devers to the ground.
Cole ended up striking Devers out in a perfect first.
LeMahieu greeted Sale with a leadoff double down the right-field line in the bottom of the inning. Sale then hit Judge in the foot with an 0-2 slider.
A slow grounder by Rizzo moved both runners up a base for Gleyber Torres.
Torres grounded to Devers and the third baseman tried to throw out LeMahieu at the plate, but he sailed his throw, allowing the run to score and Torres to get to second with Judge on third.
With the infield in and shifted, Matt Carpenter hit a low liner to the right side that short-hopped Xander Bogaerts at short, allowing Judge to score.
Hicks followed with a line shot back at Sale, which hit Sale’s left hand and ricocheted into right field for a run-scoring single — and forced Sale from the game after retiring just two batters trailing 3-0.
He was replaced by Hirokaza Sawamura, who tossed a scoreless inning before leaving with two on and two out in the second.
Darwinzon Hernandez entered and drilled Rizzo with his first pitch, a 93 mph fastball. Rizzo tossed his bat in disgust, but headed to first before Torres popped out to right to end the threat.
The Yankees’ offense, kept quiet by the first two Boston relievers, got to Ryan Brasier in the fourth with four straight singles.
After Brasier got an inning-ending double play from Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the third, Locastro and Kyle Higashioka led off with hits and LeMahieu and Judge followed with RBI singles to make it 5-2 and knock Brasier out of the game.
Jake Diekman entered and walked Rizzo on four pitches to load the bases.
Torres whiffed for the first out and Carpenter continued his sizzling start to his Yankee tenure with a two-run double to right.
Hicks added a single to score another run before Locastro smacked a two-run shot, as the Yankees batted around in the eight-run fourth.
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