Red Sox: Adam Ottavino gets his revenge in “awkward” battle with Yankees

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 25: Adam Ottavino #0 of the Boston Red Sox delivers during the eighth inning of a game against the New York Yankees on June 25, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 25: Adam Ottavino #0 of the Boston Red Sox delivers during the eighth inning of a game against the New York Yankees on June 25, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Adam Ottavino closed out a Red Sox victory over the Yankees

Facing your former team that traded you away must feel similar to running into an ex. It’s uncomfortable but there’s a certain satisfaction to be gained when you can walk away with the feeling that your’e in a better place than you were when you were with them. Adam Ottavino certainly landed in a better place when he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox but there’s still some lingering awkwardness when he crosses paths with the team that dumped him.

Ottavino admitted as much to reporters after his latest meeting with the New York Yankees, per MassLive’s Christopher Smith.

"“Yeah, it’s awkward,” Ottavino said about facing his former teammates. “But at the same time, it’s getting easier each time. I’m doing a good job of not looking at any of them in the face — the guys I know.”"

The Yankees were so desperate to trim their payroll in order to get under the  Competitive Balance Tax threshold, they traded Ottavino in a pure salary dump. They even attached pitching prospect Franklin German to entice Boston to take the contract off their hands. Worst of all, they made a rare deal with their greatest rival, as if to say they had no concerns that Ottavino would come back to haunt them.

They were wrong. Ottavino has shined in his first season with the Red Sox, making the trade look like a heist in retrospect. The Yankees should be regretting the decision to send Ottavino to their division rival considering how much of a factor he’s been in the meetings between the two clubs this season.

With closer Matt Barnes unavailable on Saturday, Ottavino stepped in for a four-out save to clinch a victory over the Yankees.

Starter Nathan Eovaldi pitched a gem that ended on a bit of a sour note when DJ LeMahieu sent a solo shot into the bullpen to finally put the Yankees on the board with two outs in the eighth inning. Hirokazu Sawamura took over on the mound and quickly loaded the bases with three consecutive walks, turning a comfortable lead into a high-stress situation.

With the bases juiced and last year’s home run champion Luke Voit at the plate representing the potential go-ahead run, the Red Sox turned to Ottavino to escape the jam. The right-hander came through by getting Voit to ground out on a slider down and away.

Ottavino remained in the game to finish off the ninth inning despite that he was pitching for the third consecutive day and the fourth time in the last five days. His tired arm was clearly laboring in the ninth when he gave up a walk and a couple of hits to allow the Yankees to narrow the lead to two but Ottavino dug down deep to push through.

Once again, Ottavino faced a scenario where the Yankees had the go-ahead run at the plate with two outs, only this time it was against the dangerous Aaron Judge. He somehow found enough in the tank to unleash a 97.8 mph fastball, his fastest pitch of the season. It was called a ball that missed the outside edge of the zone but it helped set up the 96 mph sinker down and away that Judge swung through for strike three to end the game.

Ottavino notched his fifth save of the season as the Red Sox moved to 5-0 against the Yankees. Ottavino has appeared in four of those games, allowing only one run on two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

The Red Sox head into Sunday afternoon’s series finale looking for their second sweep of the season over the Yankees. They trail the Tampa Bay Rays by a mere half game in the AL East, while the Yankees have sunk to six games back in the division and 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

Next. 5-game sweep buries Yankees. dark

It hasn’t been easy for Ottavino to face some of his former teammates but ultimately, it’s the Yankees who should feel awkward about running into a player who is flourishing without them. The Yankees dumped Ottavino to get out of his contract and he’s making them regret it.