Although the Yankees’ first four games against the Red Sox ended in victories this year, Sunday night’s contest looked a lot more like a 2018 game between New York and Boston. Just like far too many times last year, the Yankees kept things close, but a few big mistakes put the game out of reach late and saw the Red Sox celebrating at Yankee Stadium in an 8-5 Boston victory.
The Red Sox got off to a fast start, scoring in three of the first four innings. They drew first blood with a J.D. Martinez solo home run in the first inning, then added another run courtesy of an Eduardo Nunez RBI single in the second. CC Sabathia set down the dynamic trio of Betts-Benintendi-Martinez in the third, but Xander Bogaerts took him deep to start off the fourth inning, making it 3-0 Red Sox.
The Yankees had no hits through three innings, but that changed in a big way with Luke Voit’s solo smash in the fourth, cutting the deficit to just two runs. Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks and Gleyber Torres followed with hard-hit singles on the next three pitches, and the Yankees had loaded the bases with one out for Gio Urshela.
Urshela battled David Price for eight pitches and came through with a sacrifice fly, scoring Sanchez and making it a 3-2 ballgame. Price had thrown over 25 pitches in the inning, there were runners on the corners, and the game was reaching a turning point.
Inexplicably though, the Yankees ran themselves out of a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Torres broke for second and intentionally got himself in a rundown, but the Sox snuffed out the trick play immediately and gunned down Hicks trying to steal home plate.
It’s a play that seems genius if it works, but the Yankees showed a lack of trust in Frazier’s bat and tried to get cute and steal a run when Price was on the ropes. It was just the wrong play at the time, and it let Price off the hook.
Luckily, the Red Sox made a similar mistake two innings later. Sabathia had allowed two singles to start the sixth inning, but rebounded to strike out Bogaerts on a filthy cutter. With a 1-2 count on Rafael Devers, the Red Sox tried a double steal and came up empty as Devers struck out and Austin Romine threw out Benintendi. With Sabathia nearing the end of the line at 80 pitches, it was another curious baserunning decision, and another one that failed.
After all that, it was still a 3-2 Boston lead heading into the seventh inning. That changed fast thanks to what was likely the worst inning of Clint Frazier’s career. With a runner on first and one out, Frazier horribly misplayed a one-hopper off Nunez’s bat that rolled all the way to the wall, scoring a run. Nunez ended up on third base, and later scored on a Brock Holt single.
The score was now 5-2 Boston, but it still got worse. Frazier got a terrible read and a late jump on a Benintendi fly ball that clanked off of his glove and let Holt scurry around to score, taking the score to 6-2. While the Red Sox hit several balls hard that inning and likely would have scored one run anyway, Frazier’s mistakes were directly responsible for two extra runs.
Boston added on two more runs in the eighth inning (one of which came across due to yet another egregious Frazier misplay), which proved vital. Though the Yankees plated three runs in the eighth inning, it was too little, too late.
While this game was a bummer, the silver lining is that the Yankees are still up on the Red Sox by 8.5 games. The next time the Yankees face the Red Sox, they’ll be in London for a unique two-game set at the end of the month.
The Yankees have a day off on Monday, and will travel to Toronto and face the Blue Jays for the first time this year on Tuesday. Masahiro Tanaka will face Clayton Richard in the series opener.