The story for this one was pitching, namely the pitching of Masahiro Tanaka. After seeing starting pitchers struggle during the Twins series, the Yankees were hoping for a strong start from Tanaka, one that could give them a chance to win and also provide a light workload for the bullpen. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as hoped. After the completion of the first inning, Tanaka had already allowed seven earned runs. Combined with his start in London, the right-hander has now allowed 13 first-inning runs in two starts against the Red Sox this season.
Mookie Betts wasted no time hitting a single to left field, Rafael Devers followed with a walk, and Xander Bogaerts hit a home run with a 112.1 mph exit velocity to quickly put the Yankees in a hole. Tanaka was able to reach two strikes against both Devers and Bogaerts, but a put-away pitch was nowhere to be found. A few hitters later, the bases were loaded with two outs, and the runs kept coming in. A double by Jackie Bradley Jr. brought in two runs, then the lineup flipped over and Betts drove in another two runs with a double of his own, making it 7-0.
There was a moment early on where you felt this could be another slug-fest but that was the closest the game would get. Rick Porcello threw a 1-2-3-inning in the first, but he struggled in the second. Didi Gregorius continued his hot hitting with a double to right field and Luke Voit moved him to third with a single putting runners on the corners with one out. Gleyber Torres hits a single scoring Gregorius, then another single by Mike Tauchman loaded the bases up for recently called-up Kyle Higashioka. The catcher struck out on a high fastball against Porcello but the blueprint was noted.
After quickly getting ahead 0-2 against DJ LeMahieu, Porcello tried to once again strike out another right-handed hitter with a high fastball, but LeMahieu kept battling and eventually drew a walk. The score was 7-2 with Aaron Judge at the plate. With the bases loaded, he could have put the Yankees right back in it. Instead, he lifted a fly ball with an exit velocity of 99.2 mph and expected batting average of .510, but it just wasn’t enough in Boston’s large center field.
Porcello settled down, throwing a total of six innings and allowing just three runs. The third run came against Higashioka in the fifth, as he adjusted to Porcello and took a two-strike high fastball into the seats.
After putting up two zeros against Boston for the second and third innings, Boston would once again get to work on Tanaka during the top of the fourth. A home run by Devers got things started. Later on Michael Chavis, who was brought in after Brock Holt got ejected, hit a double with runners on first and second scoring another run. Stephen Tarpley looked ready to go in the bullpen but the Yankees decided to keep Tanaka in the game against left-handed swinging Mitch Moreland and the decision backfired. Moreland hit a two-run double, giving Boston an 11-2 lead putting an end to Tanaka’s start.
Boston’s offense would not stop. After Tarpley helped Tanaka end the fourth inning, the runs would keep coming. A single by Bogaerts and double by J.D. Martinez put runners on second and third to begin the inning. They scored on a single and double by Andrew Benintendi and Chavis, respectively. Before the inning ended, Benintendi would score on a groundout, bringing the score to 15-3.
Luis Cessa makes for one of the positive aspects of the game. He was maybe the most reliable multiple-inning reliever for the Yankees earlier in the season, but started to struggle along the way. Recently, however, he has been able to put together a couple of good outings, and he slowed Boston down last night.
Using Tarpley and Cessa might not have been the way the Yankees wanted to eat up innings but the surprise came in the bottom of the eigth when Austin Romine stepped in to pitch for the Yankees. Adding fuel to the fire, the Red Sox scored another three runs against Romine for a 19-3 lead.
This wasn’t the best way to start off a four-game set against the Red Sox but it’s a long series and the Yankees were able to use only two pitchers from the bullpen. The remainder of the bullpen got some much-needed rest as they look to have an impact throughout the next three games.