Everything was going just divinely for the Yankees. They had lost just once in three weeks, a surge that carried them to the best record in baseball. And for two consecutive nights, they had set somnambulant Yankee Stadium rocking with late-game conquests of the Boston Red Sox.
Then on Thursday night, that old lightning rod, Alex Rodriguez, showed up — his girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez, in tow.
And just like that, with J-Rod taking in the game from a suite above the third-base dugout, the skies opened up, the Yankees ran out of late-game magic in this series, and a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox ensued.
The defeat, which ended an eight-game winning streak and was only their second loss in the last 19 games, dropped the Yankees into a first-place tie with the Red Sox in the American League East. They have split six games this season.
If there was some solace, it was that the Yankees did not go easily. After enduring a 55-minute rain delay and getting just one hit through six innings against Eduardo Rodriguez and reliever Matt Barnes, the Yankees rallied to tie the score with four runs in the seventh. But J.D. Martinez immediately seized the lead back for the Red Sox.
His fly ball off Dellin Betances to lead off the eighth carried just over Aaron Judge’s outstretched glove, which collided with a fan, and the ball landed in the first row of the seats in right field.
By the time Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel — who was torched by the Yankees in their comeback win on Wednesday — retired Brett Gardner, Judge and Didi Gregorius in an orderly ninth inning, Rodriguez and Lopez had departed their perch.
Before the seventh, the biggest buzz in the ballpark had come just before the fifth-inning downpour, when fans seated in the second deck realized that royalty was sitting above them: Rodriguez, the former Yankee, dressed in a black trench coat, and Lopez, the pop star, wrapped in a lavender pea coat with her hair in a bun.
Within moments, fans had turned away from the game, craning their necks and pointing their cellphone cameras at the couple.
It was a rare appearance in the Bronx for Rodriguez, whose final game as a Yankee two years ago was punctuated by fierce thunder and lightning that cut short a ceremony to honor him. The skies opened up again on Thursday, with pouring rain and a few brief flashes of lightning and rolling thunder.
When play commenced after the delay, Rodriguez and Lopez were shown on the stadium scoreboard. The cheers drew a thumbs up from Rodriguez and a wave from Lopez.